Truck driving, whether short distance driving or long-haul driving is one of the toughest career paths out there. Good men and women are away from their families and friends for days, and often weeks at a time when working. The isolation from being stuck in the cab for long hours can be detrimental to mental health and the long hours sitting behind the wheel can be physically unhealthy.
Whether you are a driver who is hauling freight across the country or you’re hauling local produce to the grocery store across town, following a few simple tips to better health can help you stay fit while on the road, and be a happier person all around. Best of all, as you get healthier, you’ll have more time for family and friends who need you here the most.
Schedule A Doctors Appointment
You’re considering working on a healthier you, and that is wonderful. The first step you need to take as you go down this road to a lifestyle change is to schedule an appointment with your doctor for a physical. This way, you can have blood work done to let you know your cholesterol levels and other important information as well as to learn what your “healthy” weight might be and alternatives you may have for physical fitness. It’s always best to consult with your doctor before beginning any new diet or exercise program. Just as you would check road conditions or weather patterns before heading out, checking with your doctor lets you know where you health levels are and what you need to do to navigate things for a better outcome.
Set Some Fitness and Health Goals
Do you take pills for your cholesterol or blood pressure? Need to lose a few unwanted pounds or just do something to get your heart pumping and your blood flowing? Having a sedentary lifestyle is a health risk and setting a few short-term goals, even when on the road, can be a great benefit to your health and well-being. Whether this means to start choosing healthier snacks or even pulling over and hopping out of the cab at rest stops to take a brisk walk at least once a day, there is no better time than now to set some fitness and health goals to be well on your way to a healthier you. If you need to lose weight, set a goal to try to walk off a pound every week until you get where you need to be.
Join a Nationwide Gym
Gyms including Planet Fitness and Anytime Fitness have gyms all across the nation and when you join one locally, you will have access in every state you drive through that has one. Check your local gyms to see if they have more locations in areas you frequently travel and be sure to take a little time for gym stops during your travels. You can also check with your trucking company if you work for someone else and see if they offer gym memberships to their drivers. It never hurts to ask!
Many drivers pack a bicycle in the truck to enjoy a brisk ride when the truck is stopped for a while. Bring yours along and take advantage of sunny days when you have a lighter load and a spare half hour or so to ride a little. Bicycling is a great way to stay active when you’re on the road.
Enjoy the Scenery
All along the highway, you can spot signs for nature trails and walking paths. Many rest areas nationwide now have walking trails where truckers can take a walk to get the blood circulating during a long drive. Take time to get out of the truck and walk for at least thirty minutes every day. If you can only walk for five minutes, don’t worry! You can always build your time up and keep in mind that even marathon runners started somewhere, and many started with a short, five-minute walk and built up the duration over time.
Plan Your Meals
So many truckers stop at off the interstate fast food joints and truck stops, and this is fine, but it’s a good idea to plan for your food intake even when you know you’ll be swinging through the golden arches for your next meal. It is, of course, a great idea to pack a small cooler and bring along some healthy snacks like carrots, celery or even peanut butter crackers, but if you don’t have room for a cooler and must stop at a fast food place or even a convenience store for your next meal, try to plan to have a salad or a healthier alternative than a big, greasy burger and fries. Sure, those fries taste great and they’re easy to eat while racing down the highway, but in the long run, they will wreak havoc on your gut, your cholesterol levels and your heart. Most restaurants, even those little dive joints off the highway, offer healthier foods. You just need to take a little time to read the menu and make some good choices with healthier options. A burger and fries are fine if you have no other option, but try eating them in moderation and don’t overdo it.
Set up an account on a website such as MyFitnessPal or Lose It where you can track your food intake as well as your physical fitness, weight and caloric goals each day. Many people have benefited from using sites such as these as it makes it easy to see where your calories come from and how you are progressing with your fitness goals.
Wearable Fitness Counters
In recent years, companies like Fitbit and Apple have introduced wearable trackers to help track how many steps a person takes, heart rates and even simple workouts to do anytime. There are numerous fitness trackers available nationwide at cost ranging from a few bucks for a simple step counter to hundreds for a more advanced wearable counter. Take your time and choose one that is comfortable and easy for you to read.
You may be on the road for long hours every day and seldom have time to spend with friends and loved ones back home, but don’t let your drive time interfere with your social activities. It is not mentally or emotionally healthy to avoid social time, even if that means stopping off at a café to have a little time via Facetime or Skype to sit and visit with people who may be hundreds of miles away. When you have the chance to stay home for a day or more, take time to see friends for dinner, take your loved ones to a movie or other fun things to enjoy life. Even a trip to the grocery store or car wash with another person can be a great way to socialize and keep your mental health good. Depression is rampant in the trucking industry due to long hours away from other people, and it’s advisable to take time to be with others any time you can do so.
Get Some Rest
Not only is sleep important to keep you alert while driving, but it is also a health risk to not take that much needed time for rest stops and overnight sleep time. Lack of sleep can not only cause mental fatigue, but it can also cause you to be more prone to illnesses including the flu, mononucleosis and others as well as sleep apnea, obesity and diabetes. A great cure for the blues during a long road trip is to get a little rest and refresh your mind and body. Sleep deprivation can be accounted for more than 100,000 crashes annually as well as thousands of fatalities on the highways across the nation.
We all know that truckers are a very important asset to society. Without them, industry would fall apart. It’s important to make sure our truckers are healthy and fit to keep business flowing and keep accidents at bay on the road. As a trucker, working towards a healthier you is not only a great way to feel better about your health or body, but it can also be an ideal way to get your family or friends together socially to set goals and accomplish them together.