Physical and Mental Health Tips for Professional Truck Drivers

How can professional truck drivers remain physically and mentally fit on the road?

One way to alleviate any anxiety created by periodic medical examinations is to simply maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you eat right, get exercise, sleep well, and avoid alcohol and drugs, you’ll have taken a major step toward passing your medical exam before stepping into the physician’s office.

There are countless ways to take care of your physical and mental health, and most of them apply to everyone. But due to the nature of their jobs, needs for flexible schedules, extensive time on the road, and work that is, while physical, largely sedentary in nature, truck drivers need to remain aware of their physical and mental health. Not caring for your health increases your risk of developing various illnesses and diseases either now or in the future. Likewise, it places those sharing the road at risk in the event your health creates a safety hazard.

What are some tips for professional truck drivers to maintain a healthier lifestyle on the road?

Below are a few general tips to maintain your health, recommended by The Trucker Trainer Bob Perry:

  1. Recognize that what you put into your body is 75% of the battle. Making good nutritional choices is the key to good health. Eat proteins like chicken, turkey, lean cuts of meat, cheese, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts.
  2. Focus on low fat foods. Hunger interferes with people who are attempting to make lifestyle changes. Eating low fat foods may still leave you hungry, but you can eat more of them to fight of hunger pangs. Include proteins. They provide a feeling of “fullness.”
  3. Start each day with proteins. Breakfast is often overlooked in importance, and we often turn to a donut (or two) and a cup of copy to get us through the morning hours. Avoid doing so.
  4. Remember, if you don’t have a good food choice available, you’ll make a bad choice. Protein bars or shakes, fruit with almonds and walnuts, Greek yogurt with oatmeal are all good options.
  5. Keep your truck’s cab stocked with healthy foods and keep the easy-to-grab “junk” foods away. Again, lack of good choices lead to bad choices.
  6. Avoid overloading on sugar and carbohydrates. While they may give you brief burst of energy, you’ll soon feel tired and reach for more of the same. Avoid the vicious cycle by eating healthy.
  7. Stay hydrated. Your body needs water to remain healthy. Water regulates body temperature, supplies oxygen to your brain and the rest of your body, and keeps joints lubricated. All of these processes cause your body to lose water, so refills are needed frequently. Exercise and physical activity also cause dehydration, and when you become dehydrated you lose the electrolytes essential for good health. Keep water in your truck, and if necessary, use tablets or supplements to replace electrolytes.
  8. Pay attention to oral health. Being on the road causes you to become less concerned about your overall hygiene, and oral hygiene often suffers. Take care of your teeth. Healthy not only prevent major oral issues in the future, but a healthy mouth makes you feel better. Poor oral health has been connected to depression, as embarrassment at the condition of your teeth may cause you to avoid interacting with people.
  9. Set fitness goals and make them priorities. While driving a truck is certainly hard work, it also requires you to maintain essentially the same posture all day. Over time, lack of movement leads to tight muscles and joints that will make exercising more difficult. Set an exercise regimen. Make frequent stops, take short walks, and use phone apps that include brief exercise regimens. Several five-minute periods of exercise a day add up. Also, take a look at exercise equipment on the market today. Some can be easily used inside your truck, and vendors have even developed equipment intended specifically for trucks that provide drivers a means to get a complete daily workout.
  10. Do not ignore mental fitness. It can be the silent key to wellness. Long hours on the road lead to loneliness. Take the opportunity to meet new people when you stop along your route. Travel with a pet. Not only will a pet keep you company, it will also be a great conversation starter at rest areas and truck stops. Likewise, if your physician has prescribed medications to treat mental disorders, take them. Chemical imbalances are often the root cause of mental issues, and certain medications can level out imbalances. If you do not like taking medications, talk you your physician. Lifestyle changes, including exercise and socializing while on the road can have profound impacts on mental wellness.

What are some tips for professional truck drivers to maintaining a healthy weight on the road?

Truck drivers face many health challenges, and nearly 80% of truck drivers are overweight. Some reasons that help contribute to being overweight are easy to find: work environment, limited access to health care, lack of healthy food choices and lack of exercise.

Being overweight places drivers at a higher risk for health issues that often result in time away from work, which means decreased pay as well as an increase in the number of truck crashes and increased out-of-pocket health care costs. Obesity is an epidemic in the truck-driver community, and there are limited resources available to help drivers combat these statistics. Drivers are challenged with finding places to park, and this limits their access to food sources. A lack of healthy food choices at truck stops and limited exercise options only compound the obesity problem.

So the question is raised: What can be done about it? Following a healthy diet and consistent exercise program can help lead to a healthy life. Remember that weight loss should not be the goal. Rather, the goal should be getting healthy and maintaining that level of health. Consistency and dedication are key and although challenging, it is possible. One key to improving your health is stay focused and realize getting healthy does not happen overnight; instead, it is a process that takes time. Be patient on the journey to better health, and do not give up.
To read more about How Drivers can get on the road to better health by being mindful of food selection and exercise, Click Here.

What are some tips for professional truck drivers to healthier eating on the road?

Eating healthy can be challenging when most of the food readily available to truck drivers is from fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and vending machines. If you don’t already, consider buying groceries and cooking in the truck using small appliances such as a Crock Pot, toaster oven, microwave or hot plate. This allows drivers to have control over the ingredients used in their meals.

Whether buying groceries or buying food from a restaurant, keep in mind the foods you select. When making selections, consider whole grains, such as whole-grain rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta and whole-grain breads.
When choosing vegetables, raw products are typically best but frozen vegetables can be less expensive and can last longer. Fruit should be fresh if possible, but if fresh fruit is not an option, fruit packed in natural juices rather than syrup can be a go-to. When choosing meat, considering white meat such as chicken, turkey, pork or fish. Limiting red meat to once or twice a week is a great goal. If eating at a restaurant, remember that many establishments have the calorie, fat, sugar and carbohydrate data posted or available if you ask.

Following these diet and exercise suggestions can help to lead to the beginning of a healthy life. Remember that weight loss should not be the goal. Rather, the goal should be getting healthy and maintaining that level of health. Consistency and dedication are key and although challenging, it is possible.

To read more about How Drivers can get on the road to better health by being mindful of food selection and exercise, Click Here.

What are some tips for professional truck drivers to exercising on the road?

Exercise is equally important in weight-loss efforts. Even though driving a truck often comes with strenuous activity such as strapping down a load or walking around while getting loaded, these activities are not necessarily considered exercise.

Clinically defined, exercise should be continuous activity that is outside of a normal routine. Some examples of exercises that can be easy for truck drivers include doing push-ups off the side of the truck, stepping up and down the running board on the cab, squats while holding onto the cab for support and balance, and doing arm curls while holding jugs of water.

As for walking, consider making 32 trips around the truck. Believe it or not if you do that you have walked one mile. Ideally exercise should be done for 30 minutes about 5 days per week.

Following these diet and exercise suggestions can help to lead to the beginning of a healthy life. Remember that weight loss should not be the goal. Rather, the goal should be getting healthy and maintaining that level of health. Consistency and dedication are key and although challenging, it is possible.

To read more about How Drivers can get on the road to better health by being mindful of food selection and exercise, Click Here.