How to Stay Healthy as a Truck Driver

Choosing a job or vocation is often a matter of tradeoffs. A movie stuntman or stuntwoman, for example exchanges safety from injury for a life of excitement and glamour. An obstetrician gives up valued time spent with family for the satisfaction of bringing new life into the world—not to mention a six-figure income. Somebody might purchase a farm for the independence and economic significance of raising food while forgoing a regular and certain paycheck.

In the same way, those with a love for the open road and big rigs may choose a trucking career. The price? Less time at home and a lifestyle that is hardly nine to five. This way of life speaks to those who love freedom and extensive travel. In pursuing these pleasures, it is easy to forget the need to stay healthy. The good news is that there are ways to maintain robust health despite the responsibilities of getting the freight there on time.

Lifestyle and Trucker Wellness
On the whole, over the road (OTR) and regional truckers maintain a remarkable record of traffic safety and prompt service. Given how much you drive, it is amazing that there are not many more accidents. Leaving on-road mishaps aside, life and vitality are also precious cargo to be preserved. Driving a truck is at once exciting and stimulating but it is also a sedentary lifestyle much of the time. Meanwhile, loading and unloading, if done improperly, take a toll on the entire musculoskeletal system. With these difficulties encountered daily, truck drivers might be subject to illness.

A few tweaks in the lifestyle of a truck driver can mean more energy, better focus and greater capacity to enjoy your career. Begin with these health tips for truck drivers.

Make the Most of Time Outside
How to stay healthy as a truck driver begins with moving—yourself, not the truck. Driving a truck can be exhausting and the last thing a tired driver wants to do is exercise. Luckily, you do not need to put in hours at a gym to improve your health profile. One trucker who reversed his occupational decline in health and fitness told Men’s Health magazine that 15 minutes of intense physical activity each day is sufficient for building muscle and raising metabolism. It also strengthens joints and tendons. Tips to maximize workout effects include:

1. Select drills that work multiple muscle groups at a time. Push-ups, for instance, work the upper arms, shoulders, upper back and the abdominals–if done correctly. A bridge will train the hips, butt and lower back. Planks will do much the same thing, and also work out the oblique muscles of the abdomen. Lunges strengthen the hips, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. These are all doable without equipment and within the time it takes to stop for gas.

2. Achieve 75 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Simply subtract your age from 220 to calculate the maximum. You do not have to be a triathlete. Taking a 10-minute power walk does the trick for many. If you are staying at a hotel with a pool, a short swim can also get you in the zone.

3. Eat something immediately (or relatively shortly) after working out.

Again, push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, lunges, bridges and squats are all productive exercises requiring no special equipment. Still, there is plenty of exercise equipment that you can easily keep in the cab: jump ropes, resistance bands and small trampolines, for example. Portable bars for pull-ups and dips mount on trees or even on the side of the truck.

Stay healthy as a truck driver by making the most of time outside.

Eating Intentionally
Physical activity and exercise go a long way to strengthen the body and enhance longevity. At the same time, their benefits are limited if truckers eat a steady diet of junk food. Quick, easy and cheap, fast food establishments and convenience stores tend to be the eateries of choice for hungry travelers. These places were once unknown for fresh fruits and vegetables. Today, however, most places offer abundant salads, apples, bananas and yogurt. Remember, you do not have to go from cheeseburgers to arugula in 24 hours. Modest changes are very powerful and much more practical. Though small, these adjustments must be made consistently.

Change #1: Frontload your meals—making breakfast large, lunch moderate and dinner just enough to tide you over until breakfast. Metabolism slows when you sleep so late-night binging packs on pounds.

Change #2: Less soda, more water—water fills the stomach in a way soda, even diet soda, can not. The sugar density of regular soda wreaks havoc with insulin and blood sugar levels, contributing significantly to obesity and diabetes. Water hydrates, cools, cleanses and refreshes, all without calories, chemicals or sugar.

Change #3: Begin preparing your own meals—it does not have to be every day, though you might find that you enjoy it (and it’s cheaper). A crock pot and some fresh meat and vegetables are all you need. Fresh food contains less salt and chemical additives.

Change #4: Shrink the portions—don’t worry, you do not have to eat like a bird. Take an honest assessment of your current food intake and cut the amount little by little until you are eating until satisfied…instead of stuffed.

As noted, going from three burritos to a spinach salad in one day is a sure way to end up eating five burritos. A sustained and gradual change in your way of eating, however, will help you to feel better, look better and, yes, drive better.

Optimize Your Sleep
There is an adage among shippers and trucking companies: “If the wheels aren’t turning, you’re not earning.” Truck drivers are required to meet deadlines–which they do on a daily basis. Getting quality sleep makes them safer operators and less apt to fall victim to the ailments listed above. As much as possible, you want to experience regular patterns of sleep through the four stages (REM and non-REM).

You can make the most of your sleep time by adopting a few helpful practices, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control:

If sleeping in the cab, try to locate the truck in a quiet and secure location.
Prevent light from shining in with curtains, shades and sleep masks.
Keep your quarters cool, whether in your house the cab or a motel room.
Utilize a small fan or earplugs to muffle outside noise.
Invest in comfortable pillows and mattresses.

A regular exercise routine; a healthy eating regimen; and restful slumber are essential health tips for truck drivers. Ideally, they work together to offset the seated and tiring lifestyle of truckers. If you are wondering how to stay healthy as a truck driver, begin with this fitness tri-fecta.

Highway Transport is the best at discovering quality-minded drivers who are dedicated to safety. At Highway, we are known for our individual approach to drivers. If you are a driver with the following:

  • 12 months recent tractor trailer
  • 24 months tractor trailer experience within the last 4 years
  • Class A CDL

You will be glad you spoke with a Highway Transport recruiter.

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