How to be a Healthy Truck Driver
Every truck driver knows how important their truck is. Without it their vacations and livelihood could suffer. So they take the time to look after it, making sure it receives proper care and maintenance. They want their rig to perform at its best and stay running for years to come.
However, taking care of your truck is only half the battle. You also need to take care of yourself! For someone whose spends most of his or her time on the road, this is no easy task. If you search online, you’ll find articles detailing the top 10, 25, or even 50 ways to stay healthy as a truck driver.
Health is important, but who is going to remember 50 different methods? How about 6?
We’ve gone through these mega lists and cut it down to a 6 step process to keep your mind and body performing at their best. (Hint: it’s a lot easier than you think)
6 Easy Steps to Become a Healthy Truck Driver
Step One – Admittance and Planning
You first need to admit that you need to be healthier. Then you need to make a plan in order to achieve your goal. This may sound quite simple but not only is it the most important step, it is also the most difficult. If you can’t admit your bad habits and commit to making changes, the remaining 5 steps won’t matter. Next, plan out a schedule for each of your days. Either make a note in your phone with a helpful app, or do it the old-school way with a pen and paper. Whichever way you decide to plan out your schedule, when you start setting aside time for meals and exercise it will help eliminate those late night fast-food binges. To sum up, be realistic and honest with yourself, then be willing to make changes.
Step Two – Eat Snacks
Speaking of food, learn the power of snacking. Yes, snacking (eating regularly every 3 hours) is the key to being a healthy truck driver but only if you’re snacking on the right things (and we don’t mean chips and cheezies). Don’t worry, you don’t need to overhaul your entire diet, just start with making a few key changes.
First, begin your day with a hearty breakfast, including foods from all four food groups if possible. Next, get snacking!
A light snack in between meals, such as bananas, apples, berries, a hard-boiled egg, unsalted nuts, carrots, cucumbers, or anything else with low calories. This will help keep you alert on the road, reduces hunger, and helps cut down on your portions for lunch and dinner.
Step Three – Get Moving!
Health and fitness studies confirm that even 15 minutes of intense physical activity each day is enough to build muscle and strengthen metabolism. The best method is to combine cardio (power walk or jog) with muscle training. (push-ups, jump rope, bridge, lunges, etc.) A short fitness session will power you through the rest of your day. So get your legs moving and your heart pumping!
Here’s a list of workouts you can do anywhere (no equipment required): for men and for women
Step Four – Stay Hydrated
This simple but important step is often the most forgotten so we’re listing it here as its own category. Each person needs 48 to 64 oz (1.5 to 2 litres) of water every day, more if you work in a hot climate. Keep water available in your truck and drink it often. Yes, this means more bathroom breaks. However, the downtime for those breaks will cost far less than the effects of bad health, sickness, or leaving the industry altogether. According to one report, 1 in 5 truck drivers will quit this year due to health problems. Don’t let your health or career suffer. Water is free, so go buy yourself a good water canister and start drinking.
Step Five – Eliminate Bad Habits
The worst habit on many people’s list is smoking tobacco. Many pick up this habit as a way of dealing with stress or from trying to keep busy while sitting all day long. If you find it too difficult to immediately quit this habit, try to begin tracking how many cigarettes you smoke each day with the goal of gradually reducing this number. If you are a long term smoker this may prove to be one of the most difficult steps to conquer from this list, but rewards such as better concentration, normal blood pressure, and lower heart attack risk, are well worth it.
If you have tried to quit before but have failed there are a ton of support sites online that can help you quit once and for all. One site that has proved helpful to many smokers can be found here.
Step Six – Sleep, Sleep, and more Sleep
On pretty much every list about improving your health was the tip for more sleep. Not only does sufficient rest keep your mind sharp and body strong, it also strengthens the immune system which lowers your likelihood to get sick. Health authorities recommend a minimum of 7hrs of sleep per day. Naps are good too, if no longer than 30-45 minutes. Your truck has a sleeper in it for a reason – to sleep!
If you struggle with actually falling asleep, try out some of these apps to help you get better sleep.
We hope that these 6 steps will keep all you truck drivers out there happy, healthy, and hauling for years to come.
If you suffer from any serious health issues and need help, please talk to your employer. Forward-thinking companies understand good driver health is key to keeping their business profitable and growing, so we are sure they will help you.
The T&P Truck Driver
While every driver should be aware of their own habits and maintain their own health, here at T&P we take a proactive approach by keeping all our drivers informed about certain health risks and how to work safely in order to avoid injuries.
In our recent drivers meeting, Trish (our administration manager) covered a wide variety of safety reminders for our drivers. Since our safety manager Don had already covered how to work safely, Trish’s reminders had more to do about maintaining health while on the road, such as stretches, how to adjust your seat for proper posture, and the best way to enter a truck cab. Trish also shared this excellent video from WCB:
We hope that these semi-annual meetings will help keep safety in our drivers minds, keeping them safe and happy while on the road. It’s a hard job, but if truckers can stay safe and healthy, it will make their job much more enjoyable.
Did we miss something? What do you think is helpful to help a truck driver live a healthier life?
Let us know in the comments.