With long hours and many miles spent on the road, truck drivers—like everyone else—have to balance their working hours with personal health and wellbeing. However, many drivers don’t have access to the same wellness opportunities as those in other occupations.
On the annual survey from the American Transportation Research Institute, drivers noted that a sedentary lifestyle and reduced food availability are some of the downsides of working in the industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), long-haul drivers are more likely to develop health complications than other U.S. workers. Diabetes is also more prevalent in the industry, with rates for truckers running 50 percent higher than the national average.
When it comes to preventative care, if you’re a driver who is away from home for weeks, you may find it tough to carve out time and make lifestyle changes that result in immediate health benefits. Nonetheless, small changes during the working hours—like smarter food choices and increased exercise—can help with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you’re confused on where to begin, we’ve outlined a prescription to a healthier life:
Steps During Stops
Step tracking isn’t just another fad. Increasing physical activity is the first step to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s recommended that people get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity during the week, which equals about 30 minutes of walking, five days a week. Organizations like Fitness Trucking provide various coaching packages for drivers and carriers to help them stay in shape. Even without a fitness coach, making time for a few extra steps during a stop can tally up to the recommended amount of time that should be spent on exercise each week. And if you’re worried about false steps being tracked in your fitness tracker, try using an application like DriveBit to monitor activity more accurately.
If chips, candy, and soda are making a daily appearance in your life, you may need to revamp your diet, starting with breakfast. Studies show that people who eat breakfast are healthier and eat less throughout the day. Fueling up with eggs or yogurt will give the body’s metabolism a jump start, preventing hunger pangs and grogginess, which can cause drivers to make two or three more stops for a pick-me-up snack. Yes, you heard that right – Eating a healthy breakfast can actually cause drivers to stop less throughout the day!
After breakfast, fitting in a healthy—and fast—lunch or dinner when you’re on the road can be tricky. Cooking a few quick meals, like a one-pot skillet or a freezer-friendly casserole, in advance can help you not only save money, it will also reduce the time spent on making extra stops to find food. Make sure you’re incorporating good sources of protein like chicken breasts or pork chops into these recipes.
In between meals, you can keep energy levels high with healthy snack options. Stocking the cab with healthy treats like almonds, raisins, and protein bars can stave off hunger and keep you feeling fuller, longer. Making little changes, like switching soda for a bottle of water and keeping almonds on hand, is an excellent place to start and can go a long way towards a healthier lifestyle.
Staying mentally-fit is just as important as staying physically healthy. According to the American Institute of Stress, job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems. So how can you decompress when you’re feeling the tension build up? Try taking one or two minutes during the day to meditate. Doing deep breathing exercises can also help you get through times of emotional distress. The CDC provides other practical measures and resources for reducing job-related stress, which can be incorporated into anyone’s day-to-day routine.
The Ancient Greek poet Homer famously wrote, “There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” For drivers, this couldn’t be more true. Getting as much sleep as possible during off hours can set you up for success, but it requires comfort and quiet. Keeping a white-noise machine in the cab can be useful to block outside noises, and even having an extra blanket or two stashed away can ensure sleep comfort is optimal.
Managing individual health is an essential part of ensuring overall fleet safety, and can improve productivity by reducing work-related interruptions. Learn how you can get insight into the health and safety of drivers in our eBook, “3 Reports to Improve Fleet Safety”.