Truckers Guide to Staying Healthy On the Road
As a professional truck driver who sits a majority of the day, you face health and wellness challenges. We have compiled a list of physical and mental challenges that truck drivers face on the road daily, along with solutions to these problems. Physical and mental health is vital for professional and personal success in the trucking industry.
Getting consistent, restorative sleep is not only good for the sake of your health, but also for the sake of your job. Most common sleep inhibitors and interrupters for truckers:
- Light: Truckers need to block as much light out as possible by using curtains or shades. This goes for artificial light as well; televisions, cell phones, and computer screens. Keep your sleeping area as dark as possible.
- Sounds: Various noises from the inside and the outside of your truck can affect your sleeping habits. Parking away from other trucks, in a safe and secure location is best. You may also consider using a white noise machine to help block out any unwanted noise.
- Odors: Diesel exhaust, animals, human odor and dumpsters are common odors that truckers have to avoid on a daily basis. Avoid parking near these unwanted smells and keep proper ventilation within your own truck. Be sure to take out your trash daily and add an air freshener to keep a pleasant smell within your rig.
- Movement and vibration: High winds and speeding traffic are factors that sway your truck while parked. Be sure to park in an area that is isolated from things that will cause movement.
- Food and drink intake: Reduce your intake of caffeine and other food items that will keep you up at night. As a trucker, you have a tight schedule that requires every minute of sleep you can get.
To reduce the chances of eating poorly while on the road, pack delicious, healthy snacks for the road:
- Trail mix: You may buy it or make it yourself! It’s a quick snack to throw together, just mixing a small serving of almonds, pistachios, or cashews with dried cranberries, cherries, raisins and dark chocolate chips.
- Turkey jerky: This delicious snack is high in protein, low in fat and lower in calories than normal road trip jerky!
- Protein bars: These are high in protein, but still contain high quantities of refined sugar. These are a cheap snack option that still allows you to get your chocolate fix!
- Frozen yogurt chips: Put flavored yogurt into a baggie and cut one of the corners off. Squeeze yogurt drops onto some wax paper and freeze. This is a great ice cream replacement and tastes just as good!
- Popcorn: Lightly salted popcorn gives you the crunch most people look for in a snack. Even better, you can binge eat popcorn and not feel bloated.
Physical activity or exercise can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long-term health benefits. Most importantly, regular activity can improve your quality of life.
- Diabetes: A 2009 study found that commercial truck drivers have a 50% higher risk of developing diabetes compared to the general population. Solution: By focusing on eating healthy, participating in physical activity, and working with your medical provider, your diabetes can be kept under control.
- Vaccines: Many adults believe the myth if they received all their vaccines as a child that they have a lifetime of immunity against various diseases. Annual and bi-annual checkups are very important for all men and women.
- Exercise: Exercising regularly helps you control your weight, reduce risk the of cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, and strengthen your bones and muscles. Working out for a minimum of 15 minutes a day can drastically help your physical health.
Water can help regulate your body temperature, lubricate and cushion joints, and get rid of bodily waste through urination, sweat, and bowel movements.
- Weight loss: Drinking water is linked to weight loss and helps individuals consume fewer calories due to feeling full.
- The daily amount of water to drink: Men are encouraged to drink 13 cups a day and women are encouraged to drink 9 cups a day.
- Food containing water: Watermelon and celery contain high amounts of water.
Spending countless hours behind the wheel of a truck can cause muscle tightness. It is important to take breaks to do some simple stretching and exercises.
- Strength training: Reduce hip fractures, arthritis, and bone density loss.
- Health benefits: Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and strengthen your bones and muscles.
- Weight loss: Lose fat while gaining muscle.
- Suggested exercises: Walking, biking, martial arts, and/or swimming.
- Trucker exercises: Jumping jacks, dumbbells, push-ups, lunges, and squats are a few recommended exercises for truckers!
TAKE YOU TIME
Reduce stress and take time for yourself. Stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, fatigue, boredom, and loneliness are all factors that affect your mental health. Here are a few ways to reduce the inner pain and relax:
- Keep in touch with your family and friends. Scheduling times to call your loved ones on a weekly or biweekly basis eases loneliness and anxiety. Talk through your issues and take advice from your loved ones.
- Regular physical and mental checkups. There is nothing wrong with meeting a therapist or counselor in person or over the phone to discuss any problems you are facing.
- Yoga and meditation. A few minutes a day is all it takes to de-stress and unwind. Practicing yoga, meditation, or prayer is a great way to release any anxieties or stresses that you face on the road.