« »

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ways to turn your truck in to a personal gym

Trucker fitness
Truck steps can be used for tricep dips
By Anna Donato

Truck drivers are on the road for days, weeks, and sometimes months at a time. It is not always easy to keep up with a workout regimen you may have started when you were not out on the road. There are so many benefits that come with working out on a regular basis, and a healthy lifestyle should be a priority whether you are at home or not.  

Truck driving can have adverse effects on your health because of the long hours of sitting and also because of it being hard to stay on a healthy diet while out on the road. 

So, what do you do when you are traveling for weeks with no gyms in sight? You can become your own gym, or at least make your truck into one! Obviously, you are most likely working with a tight space, but where there is a will, there is a way. You do not need much equipment, and your truck has enough tools of its own. Here are a few ways to turn your vehicle into a personal gym.
  1. The cab of the truck is a small space, but is all you need for a full body workout. If you purchase a yoga mat, resistance band, weight plates, a medicine ball, and/or dumbbells, you are ready to go. These exercise items are great because they can be used anywhere, they are small, and they are quick and easy to pack away. You can work your abs, legs, and arms in the cab of your truck. When you are at a truck stop and ready to work out, you can place a yoga mat in between the seats for a perfect place to do crunches, bicycle crunches, side crunches, planks, side planks, and pushups. There is also enough room to stand up in the cab of the truck. Even though it is a tight space, you can use your dumbbells and do calf raises, shoulder presses, squats, tricep extensions, wood chops, and more.

  2. The large handles on the doors of the truck are another great tool for turning your vehicle into a personal gym. Using the resistance band, you can loop it through the door handle to work your arms, chest, and core. Stand with your feet firm in one place while holding the resistance band, then twist your body as far as you can from side to side working your core muscles. You can also face the door or away from the door and with each arm, pull the resistance bands out and away from your body in a rowing motion to work your arms and chest muscles.

  3. The step located on the sides of the truck is probably the best tool to use on the outside of the truck for a full body workout. You can use the step to do tricep dips by sitting on the edge of the step with your feet together and placing your hands on the side of each thigh. Once in position, bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle lowering yourself towards the ground. Then straighten your arms, putting your body back at starting position, and repeat. You can use the step of the truck to do a number of lower body exercises as well. Decline lunges are when you put one foot back on the step and lunge forward with the other leg while bending your knee to a 90-degree angle. You can also try elevating both feet on the step of your truck to do elevated pushups. Another great exercise using the steps of your truck is knee ups. Knee ups are not only great for working your leg muscles, but they get your heart rate up as well.

About the author: The writer, Anna Donato, is a fitness blogger who focuses on those in professions that demand high travel, and looks for ways to turn even the smallest of spaces into workout spaces. For those truckers who need a doctor to clear them for work, she recommends finding a local physician through http://www.driverphysicals.com. You can learn more about Anna on Google+.

Image: Patrice Raunet Hollywood, "Volvo Truck", US-PD 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why demand for doctors is expected to rise

The number of physicians as a percentage of population is expected to decline in the coming years per data released by organizations including the U.S. Census Bureau and the Association of American Colleges. Of contributing factors to this shortage, the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act is believed to be among those with the most negative impact according to the Heritage Foundation. Such an unaccounted for decline in the number of doctors will reduce the quality of future healthcare services despite a rise in the availability of that lower-quality care.

A reason the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare,” will lower doctor to patient ratios is workload. According to Health Affairs, a monthly journal that compiles and publishes research on healthcare policy and services, the workload of doctors is going to rise 29 percent between 2005 - 2025. Moreover, also per Health Affairs, the U.S. population will rise 17 percent by 2025 whereas the population of individuals over age 65 will increase 73 percent. In this sense, population changes in addition to legislated increases to demand for healthcare services will add to the doctor shortage.
Demand for U.S. doctors
The Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare is thought to be a factor in demand
Difference in medicaid reimbursement rates is another related variable that will affect the availability of healthcare services according to Avik Roy of Forbes. For example, according to Roy, in 2008 the state of California paid primary care physicians 38 percent of what private insurers would  as compared to 112 percent in Alaska. Part of the reason for lower reimbursement rates are strained state budgets according to the Floridian Governor, Rick Scott via U.S. News. Additionally, according to Michael Tanner of the New York Post, a Doctor Patient Medical Association poll predicted as many as 83 percent of physicians will scale back or close their healthcare practices because of Obamacare.

Even though the availability of doctors is forecast to decline under the new healthcare law, specific regions of the United States will be affected more than others. Moreover, it is believed by the year 2025, a shortfall of over 100,000 physicians will exist according to the New York Times in reference to an American Medical Association study. Furthermore, according to a PRWeb release referring to a national healthcare survey performed by Jackson Healthcare, only 26 percent of doctors already do not accept Medicaid, and 36 percent of those who do, will no longer accept new Medicaid patients.

There are solutions to a worsening doctor shortage. An increase in the number of medical professional work visas issued each year is one such way. Other solutions include training incentives for physicians such as higher tax deductions on student loan payments, and caps on the amount of liability insurance doctors pay under the Affordable Healthcare Act. According to Advanstar Communication, Inc., an increase in doctor training is at least helping relieve the situation as the AAMC has reported medical school enrollment to be on track for a 30 percent increase by 2016.

Image license: USGov-PD

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Newsletter: S corporation tax strategy

Monday, December 8, 2014

How to lower income taxes using educational costs

Education tax deductions
Educational tax deductions reduce taxable income
There are several ways education loans qualify for tax relief. Payments toward qualified student debt are eligible for income tax credits or deduction with certain restrictions. For example, each tax benefit has a maximum claimable amount between $2,000-$4,000. There also income caps that prevent higher-income earners from claiming tax perks. To determine eligibility for education tax incentives, a Form 1098-T and wage or income statements such as the W-2 or 1099-MISC are needed.


Student loan interest deduction

Individual tax filers with incomes below $75,000 and joint filers with incomes below $155,000 are able to take this tax deduction; it can lower taxable income by up to $2,500 in the 2013 tax year. This deduction is allowable for education loans not granted by employers or family members. The rules for this deduction allow loan origination fees from qualified educational institutions to also be classified as interest. Voluntary interest payments are also able to be included in the total interest deducted. Interest paid to institutions is required to be reported on Form 1098-E, which should be sent to the payee for each year of interest payment.

Tuition and fees deduction

This tax deduction reduces taxable income by as much as $4,000. The deduction can be taken without having to file a Schedule A or itemized deductions with the IRS. This tax incentive is allowable when the educational costs are for an institution that participates in a federal student aid program. However, nonprofit or private schools may also qualify. Individual tax filers with incomes above $80,000 and joint filers with incomes above $160,000 are disqualified from taking this deduction.

American opportunity tax credit

The American opportunity credit allows tax filers to claim up to $2,500 off taxes due. The credit cannot be taken in conjunction with the lifetime learning credit. Unlike the lifetime learning credit, there is a four year maximum for which the benefit can be claimed. If taking this credit creates a negative tax balance, then up to 40 percent of the credit or $1,000 may be refunded to the tax filer. In essence, this credit can actually increase annual income because of the refund potential. Individual tax payers with a MAGI above $90,000, and joint filers with MAGIs above $180,000 are excluded from this benefit.

Lifetime learning tax credit

The Lifetime learning credit has an income tax cap that determines eligibility. Specifically, the credit is reduced for single tax filers with modified adjusted gross incomes, or MAGIs, between $53,000-$63,000. If individual income is above $63,000, then the tax filer does not qualify for it. For married tax filers who do so jointly, the phase out income range is $107,000-$127,000. Unlike the American opportunity credit, this tax benefit of up to $2,000 does not qualify for refund of negative tax due balances.

These tax benefits are good for tax filers who earn enough income to make substantial payments on student debt. Unemployed and part-time workers are less likely to be able to claim the maximum credit and deduction, especially if they have no other source of income. Nevertheless, taxable income and tax can be lowered by a substantial amount when using the best allowable benefit. The IRS states neither of the aforementioned tax credits are useable alongside the tuition and fees deduction. These kinds of tax perks potentially eliminate or reduce tax filing rate for each year they are claimed.

Image license: 401(K) 2012, CC BY-SA 2.0