In the past three articles on TheTrucker.com, we talked about the first three steps to staying healthy on the road — quality sleep, proper nutrition and exercise. Next up is personal hygiene, possibly the most important element because of this new environment we are all learning to live in.
The first step is to protect your personal “engine” from freezing up, locking up and shutting you down in the current dangerous landscape the coronavirus has created. And now the dreaded cold-and-flu season is upon us. Your job as a driver is tough enough without adding more challenges; it’s all about prevention. Just as you have to get your rig winter-ready, you have to get your body ready, not just for winter but every day year-round.
Professional CDL drivers are often at a high risk for flu and other illnesses, mainly due to personal health levels as well as the environment in which you work. The constant contact with fellow drivers, going in and out of terminals and travel centers, heightens your risk. The life of a driver means using multiple public restrooms, standing in fuel lines as others cough and sneeze around you, and using public showers on a regular basis.
The first basic steps for staying safe and healthy: Mask up, stay hydrated and wash your hands (a lot). Next, take steps to ramp up your immune system and keep it running strong to help fight off germs and viruses.
Here’s a list of suggested proactive measures we’ve put together, but remember, it’s always safe to consult your doctor.
- Take a good multivitamin. It may improve your overall well-being. Vitamins are essential for professional truck drivers due to the difficulty in finding proper nutrition from foods on the road.
- When taking any form of vitamins, it’s a good idea to consume them right after you eat.
- Many professionals recommend zinc supplements, as they may help stimulate the immune system.
- Take extra vitamin C. It will support your immune system and could reduce the severity of a cold.
- Utilize garlic, my favorite natural immune booster. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and one of the best forms of supporting your immune system. Don’t worry about offending others with the odor; in this case, keeping everyone at a safe distance is a blessing. Garlic is available in pill form, but I believe pure garlic is most effective. Slice the cloves into small pill-size pieces and swallow them whole as you would a vitamin; this will not give you the aftertaste or odor that chewing will.
- Be sure to eat in the mornings, and include a good lean protein source. During the winter months, oatmeal is a great-tasting, high-protein breakfast.
- Don’t go long periods without eating. Your system will become weak, and the immune system will lower its protection.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds multiple times a day, and wear gloves when you can.
- Carry (and use) hand sanitizer.
- Wipe down your steering wheel and door handles daily.
- Always carry a clean handkerchief.
- Exercise regularly, and keep your circulation running strong. Walking is a good choice.
- Always cover your hand with a paper towel before touching the bathroom door when exiting. Also, when possible, use your knuckles, not the palm of your hand, to push open ANY door.
- Use the crook of your arm (the inside of your elbow) to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
For more nutrition ideas, download our Fit to Pass App (available for both Apple and Android products), or visit us at www.fittopass.com.
Bob Perry has spent nearly the past four decades on a mission to educate professional drivers and share life-changing products and services to help them live healthier lives while on the road. Recognized throughout the transportation industry, from bus drivers to over-the-road professional drivers, Bob Perry has played an important role in creating a paradigm shift helping regulatory agencies, private and public sector entities, and consumers understand the current health challenges of the professional driver. He has participated as a wellness advocate in several roundtable discussions, large audience groups and small forums as well as going “curbside” through a national truck stop tour.
Bob’s articles have been featured in The Trucker and a number of other national transportation industry publications and is the host of a weekly wellness call produced by Rolling Strong. Bob has been a regular guest on RedEye Radio and Land-Line Radio, and is often an invited guest on Sirius radio shows. He has been featured in the New York Times, Men’s Health Magazine, Drug Store News, American Road Magazine, WSJ, NPR, ABC National Radio, as well as hundreds of daily newspapers. He has appeared on television news shows across the nation, including a featured TV segment on ABC NightLine News.