Every trucker knows the road can be a dangerous place. Besides the obvious transit-related risks of constantly being on the road, some damages are less apparent, slowly worsening until they start to cause serious trouble. We’re talking about what trucking can do to your health.
Think about it: all those hours sitting down behind the wheel, as well as all that junk food we often have to rely on for the sake of convenience, add up over the years. Luckily there are small, manageable steps you can incorporate into your lifestyle in order to mitigate the dangers that come with living on the road.
This one’s a no-brainer, but you should know that eating healthy on the road and with a trucker’s fast-paced schedule can be quite a challenge. Rest stops are not exactly known for their healthy food offerings. And us truckers are often short on time and on a budget, which make stopping at healthier restaurants logistically complicated.
The answer? Cooking and packing your own healthy meals can make you help better choices and to keep convenience and fast food purchases to a minimum. For long drives, eat a good breakfast and pack healthy snacks such as nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Snacking on small portions every three hours can keep you full and energized. If you skip snacks or meals, you are more likely to binge on junk food later in the day.
Cooking or preparing your own meals if you are an over-the-road truckers can be a challenge, but consider making your stops at grocery stores instead of rest areas or fast food joints. You’ll most likely be able to find whole foods that are easier to prepare on the road. Some healthy long-haul drivers even carry portable gas burners and grills that let you cook almost anywhere you stop. And as a bonus: cooking your own meals can be cheaper too!
Trucking is mostly a sedentary activity. Most of the hours you log go by sitting down. The benefits of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle are indisputable, but making the time and finding a place to exercise can be a challenge, especially if you’re on a long trip.
The good news is that there are plenty of exercises you can do that require almost no space or equipment. Search the internet for exercise routines that use your own body weight as resistance. Pushups, situps, squats, and lunges are your friends. When coupled with a healthy diet, a regular daily exercise routine can help keep your cardiovascular system in shape and your core stronger. Exercising can also keep you feeling refreshed and accomplished. Even if you can squeeze in just 15–20 minutes a day, breaking a sweat is always a good idea.
Get plenty of sleep
We can’t stress this one enough. Having a good night’s sleep is not only essential to keep you awake during your shift. Sleep deprivation is just plain unhealthy. Mood changes, disorientation, memory loss, and lack of focus are just some of the consequences of skimping on a good night’s sleep. 8–10 hours per night is an ideal number.
If you are an OTR trucker who sleeps in a cab of a truck, make sure it is fitted with a good mattress and proper ventilation. This is not the time to be frugal; get the best sleep you can afford. Think of it as an investment. The better you sleep, the more productive and efficient you’ll be.
Give your brain a workout
Boredom can be unhealthy. And driving long distances can be filled with plenty of boring moments. Feeling bored too often can make you feel fatigued or, worse, depressed. Why not make good use of those long driving shifts to learn new things and exercise your brain? Podcasts and audiobooks can be a lifesaver here. Keep up to date with the news, sports, or whatever you’re into. Learn a new language. Expand your musical horizons. Whatever keeps your mind active will help keep you alert and focused on the road, and smarter off the road too!
Content Creator: Pablo Torres
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