HEALTH ON THE ROAD

Even though your job presents many challenges to a healthy lifestyle, by being proactive, you can lose weight and reduce your risk from many chronic illnesses.

EXERCISE

After long hours on the road each day, the last thing you may want to do is exercise. But you can easily incorporate exercise into your work day.

Did you know that walking around a heavy-duty truck and trailer 32 times is equal to one mile? Break the distance out over all your stops, and you can burn an additional 100 calories over the course of a day. You can also take advantage of time during required breaks to run or jog around rest areas. Invest in a pedometer to keep track of how many steps you take per day. Each day, aim to take a few more steps than the day before.

Or, carry resistance bands or weights in your truck and use them for strength conditioning. Jump ropes can also provide an excellent source of cardio training. Many phone applications have exercise podcasts, videos and images to help you through a workout.

If you make time, you can get a great workout during your workday. For more tips, check out how this Ruan driver stays fit while on the road

DIET

Take a few moments and pack a few items before you hit the road each day. Pack things like string cheese, pretzels, popcorn, beef jerky, fresh fruit and vegetables.

If you have to eat fast food, some options are better than others.  Look for options that are baked, not fried. Get fruit or salad as your side instead of French fries. Also, avoid calorie-dense condiments like mayonnaise and full fat salad dressings. Try to get the most out of your calories. 

Limit Sodium

Many of the foods readily available to drivers at fast food joints are loaded with sodium. And while sodium is necessary to our bodies, most people eat two times more sodium each day than is necessary, and it can lead to high blood pressure. For healthy adults, the recommended sodium intake is less than 2,400 mg daily—a teaspoon of table salt contains about 2,400 mg of sodium. While sodium is found is most foods, some contain more than others. Try to consume these high sodium foods in small quantities: pizza, deli meat, bacon, cheese, soup and fast food. And look for low-, no- or reduced-soduim foods at the stores. At home, instead of using a salt shaker, season foods with herbs and spices.

SLEEP

Sleep is tied to good health and personal well-being, according to the National Sleep Foundation. However, millions of people suffer from lack of sleep. The amount of sleep needed per night varies from person to person, but most people need seven to eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep each night. 

For professional truck drivers, getting enough sleep is critical, but it is often difficult due to inconsistent work and sleeping hours. According to the Department of Transportation, 1 to 4 percent of all highway crashes are due to fatigue. And each year, 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths occur when drivers fall asleep at the wheel. 

Signs of Excessive Fatigue

  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Apathy
  • Slowed Speech
  • Flattened Emotional Responses
  • Impaired Memory

Your sleep environment is a significant factor in your quality of sleep. Here are some tips to make your bedroom—or cab—more sleep friendly.

  • Noise: To block out unwanted and disruptive noises, use earplugs or incorporate white noise with a fan, air cleaner or sound machine.

  • Temperature: A slightly cool room contributes to good sleep, so turn the thermostat down at night. Use enough blankets to stay warm, but try to keep your sleep environment less than 75 degrees.

  • Light: Make your sleeping environment as dark as possible. If you have to sleep during the day, invest in light blocking window shades and blinds. And if you wake up during the night to use the restroom, avoid turning on bright lights. When your body encounters light, your internal systems think it is day time and will make you more alert—and less likely to fall back asleep.

  • Sleeping Surface: Ensure that you have a quality mattress so your neck and back are supported—and you don't toss and turn. If you have a mattress more than 20 years old, replace it or choose a foam mattress topper to provide additional support.

  • Activities Before Bed: Try to turn off the television, stop using a computer and reduce bright lights an hour before bedtime. Without the bright screens and agitating images, your body will begin producing sleep-inducing hormones, so when you get into bed, you'll be ready for sleep.