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Exercise Program Keeps Bus Drivers Moving

Though school bus drivers spend most of their day sitting, people may not realize that it can be a strenuous job. Medical experts agree that sitting for long periods can be linked to various health risks, and now school bus drivers in New Hampshire have taken matters into their own hands to improve their health — and how they serve students.

In the past year, 11 of the 16 school bus drivers for the Supervisory Unit #88 – Lebanon School District have taken part in a community exercise program designed specifically for them.

It all started in February 2014, when Director of Transportation Wanda Hastings decided to start a fitness program for her drivers to enhance safety. Hastings got in touch with the Carter Community Building Association (CCBA), a local fitness center where she frequently exercised.

“I was working out at the CCBA and asked the instructor if we could include the drivers in an exercise and nutrition program,” she told STN.

Safety trainers have long said that physical fitness is important for school bus drivers, as running and lifting students may be required in case of an emergency. In fact, bus evacuation trainings require drivers to practice lifting and dragging students.

“Wanda wanted to do it because she was concerned about their health. (She) wanted to make sure their safety as well as the kids’ safety was being considered in what they were doing,” said Larry Ruffing, fitness director at the CCBA and instructor of the bus driver exercise class.

The classes have been meeting twice a week for an hour each session ever since.

Ruffing told STN the classes involve a lot of intervals and strength training. He sets up 10 different workout stations. The drivers exercise at stations for 35 seconds each and then switch until everyone has rotated through them. After a one-minute break, they go through the cycle again, for a total of four times.

Both Ruffing and Hastings agree that the drivers’ hard work and dedication to the program has paid off.

“They are doing a great job — they have lost weight and are feeling stronger. Some of the male drivers are saying snow shoveling is a lot easier since they started working out, “ said Hastings.

“Three of them could not go up a set of stairs before. One individual said he couldn’t mow the lawn, couldn’t do laundry, couldn’t do things around the house. Now, every one of them can do those things,” said Ruffing. “It’s wonderful, and I’m so proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish. They stayed with it even during the summer, when school wasn’t in session, (and) were still coming in. I’m proud of what they’ve done.”

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