Being a long-haul truck driver is a physically and mentally challenging job.
These over-the-road truckers not only have to travel long distances away from their homes, but they also have to handle big vehicles on fast-moving highways with the threat of accidents always looming on the horizon.
With a major portion of their lives spent on the road, truckers often suffer from increased health problems that can provoke shorter life spans.
Being away from home, they are often forced to lead unhealthy lives without the ability to exercise or access home-cooked healthy food.
Using tools to estimate the driving time from location to location can help them save time, but sitting on the driver’s seat for hours and eating whatever is available on the wayside forces them into an unhealthy lifestyle.
Living an unhealthy life as a truck driver can get you involved in accidents that even truck accident lawyers may find difficult to handle.
For long-haul truck drivers who already live an unhealthy life, a permanent lifestyle change is necessary.
Is Truck Driving Bad for Your Health?
According to a study that was published in Work,
“The trucking occupation places drivers at high risk for poor health outcomes. “
Overall, there are a variety of reasons that truck driving is bad for your health.
For starters, truck drivers have a high rate of back disorders, which is directly due to the time spent driving.
Along with that, they also have a high rate of heart disease, which could be due to the stress of their job or the lack of exercise while sitting in a truck for long hours.
One of the main causes of stress for truck drivers is Hours of Service regulations, which provide very little job control for truckers, and leads them to social isolation. As stated by a study published in Issues in Mental Health Nursing,
“Surveyed truckers were found to have significant issues affecting their mental health, such as loneliness (27.9%), depression (26.9%), chronic sleep disturbances (20.6%), anxiety (14.5%), and other emotional problems (13%). Findings have potential to help researchers develop interventions to improve the emotional and occupational health of truck drivers, a highly underserved population.”
Although truck driving has multiple negative implications, there are many options for improving the overall health of truck drivers.
Health and Wellness Tips for Long-Haul Truck Drivers
According to a study published by the American Journal of Health Promotion,
“this study suggest truck drivers would clearly benefit from a health education and promotion program. The truck stops should be evaluated as a possible setting for such a program.”
If you are a long-haul truck driver, adhering to these health wellness tips will go a long way in keeping you fit and healthy:
1) Eating Right
Of course, it will not be possible for you to cook your own meals. However, instead of munching on junk food available on roadside kiosks, you can head for grocery stores located on highways.
To access these, you can even park further away and force yourself to walk a bit more. Regardless, you will be able to buy easy-to-eat nutritious food.
Your choice of food should center on fruits and vegetables and not on fat-laden fast foods that cause obesity and heart problems.
Your best choice is pre-washed cut fruits and vegetables. hey are not only a great source of vitamins and minerals but are easy on the digestive system.
Eat at least five to ten helpings, if not more, on a daily basis.
You can also carry a portable grill for grilling chicken and turkey breasts that are healthy and a great source of protein.
Another convenient option is to prepare smoothies and drink them while driving.
2) Don’t Get Dehydrated
Since driving is a sedentary activity and the truck cabins are usually air-conditioned, you won’t often feel like drinking water. However, this can lead to dehydration without you even knowing it!
Furthermore, your body doesn’t signal thirst, until its already in a state of dehydration.
Dehydration creates many health issues, and maintaining proper hydration is one of the easiest ways to improve your health.
To counter dehydration, keep a bottle of water on the dashboard and take a sip every few minutes while you drive all day long.
Consume half your body weight in pounds, in ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 170 pounds, drink 85 ounces of water per day.
This way you won’t need to wait till you are thirsty.
Buying the best quality bottled water can also significantly improve your mental alertness while driving and overall health. Look for water with a very high p.H. level.
Don’t be afraid to spend additional money on the best water possible!
3) Exercise While You are on the Move
We generally consider office work as sedentary, but your long-haul truck driving job is sedentary too.
Truck drivers often sit in their driving seat in a cramped cabin for hours on end.
If you are an OTR (over the road) driver, you can usually drive for 11 hours straight, take a break for 10 hours, and then continue again till you reach your destination.
This non-stop driving makes you sit in one position for hours- which plays havoc with your health. You can easily counter this by consciously taking up various forms of exercise when you have free time.
There are many ways of exercising your body while on the move.
You can carry your running shoes with you and go for a little jog whenever you get a chance. Jogging will invigorate you and work up your stiff joints and muscles.
You can also carry some weights and train your arms while driving.
Just take care to secure them safely, as you wouldn’t want them to roll under your acceleration pedal, brake, or clutch, and cause an accident.
Another option is to carry along a folding bicycle. You can use it in the rest area where you park your truck.
Also, buy a pedometer. It is ideal, not only for monitoring your progress but also to remain motivated.
4) Never Use Intense Stimulants
You can use mild stimulants such as coffee or caffeinated tea in moderation but never drive under the influence of psychotropic drugs.
Driving in a hyper-alert state can not only lead to car accidents but also adversely affect your health in the long run. If you can, choose stimulant-free energy products. Alternatively, you could bring superfood supplements which will help provide a lot of natural energy for you. You can even use superfoods that contain natural caffeine, such as Your Super Energy Bomb.
Concluding Thoughts – Improving Your Health as a Long-Haul Truck Driver
For long-haul drivers, it is always difficult to stay fit and healthy due to the nature of the job.
But adopting a disciplined life and a healthy lifestyle can not only keep you healthy and energetic but also add years to your productive life in this challenging career.