As a commercial truck driver, maintaining your health while on road can be a challenge. Sitting for extended periods of time and the lack of healthy food options while on the road can take a toll on your body. According to the CDC, truck drivers are more likely to be smokers, suffer from obesity and are significantly less likely to be physically active when compared to other professions in the United States. However, there are several tips that you can use in order to maintain good health and mental well-being while being on the road.
1. Plan Your Diet Ahead of Time:
Because healthy food options may be difficult to access during commercial trucking, planning your meals and snacks in advance will ensure that you are gaining the proper nutrients that your body requires. Healthy food options that you may want to pack include fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. These options may also be available to you while on the road and are usually included in products such as protein bars, dried fruit, beef jerky and trail mix.
2. Stay Hydrated:
Staying hydrated is often overlooked by many people, including truck drivers. In general, most people need at least four to six cups of water each day in order to be properly hydrated. It is best to avoid drinks such as sodas, energy drinks, caffeinated beverages or drinks that have a high sugar content. Sugar in drinks can lead to many health problems such as heart disease and diabetes, while caffeinated drinks will further dehydrate you. Not paying attention to your hydration habits can have an adverse effect on your performance as a truck driver. The consequences of not staying well hydrated include decreased cognitive function, fatigue, fainting and or dizziness. In order to continue to work efficiently and maintain your health, keeping good hydration habits is key.
Sitting for long periods of time is a daily part of truck driving, so it is important that you remain active while you travel. Taking breaks during your haul to stretch, take walks or conduct simple exercises is a good way to keep your body healthy, active and your blood flowing. You can also invest in small exercise equipment such as resistance bands or lightweight dumbbells to exercise during your time on the road.
4. Get Enough Sleep:
The importance of avoiding drowsy driving in the trucking industry is one of the most significant factors in reducing hazards to you and your equipment. The NHTSA estimates that truck driver fatigue and drowsiness accounts for 40% of trucking incidents and can be the cause of major consequences to you, your equipment and your legal standing. Truck drivers should ensure that they are getting adequate sleep in order to avoid fatigue and manage stress levels. A sleep schedule of 7-8 hours each day is a typical amount of sleep needed in order to avoid fatigue and should be prioritized.
5. Take Care of Your Mental Health:
Taking care of your mental health can be a challenging task for truck drivers who spend long hours alone on the road. There are many steps that you can take to improve and maintain your mental health such as staying connected with friends and or family through phone calls, text messages or video calls, managing stress through music and meditation and taking breaks. Maintaining a healthy diet, sleep schedule and sufficiently hydrating yourself on the road are also contributing factors to your mental health and should not be ignored. It is important to stay connected with loved ones and participate in activities that help you unwind and relax. If you are struggling with your mental health seek a professional doctor or mental health expert about your concerns. They can provide you with strategies to manage your mental health now and in the future.