It’s one thing to stay on top of your health at home and it's a different thing to stay healthy while being on the road for days or even weeks driving 10 hours daily.
A truck driver's lifestyle strongly relates to prolonged sitting, unregular sleeping, and eating regime, which limits their life to nutritious food and exercise facilities.
In the long run, this kind of lifestyle may affect a truck driver's health. Often, they become overweight or develop other chronic conditions.
And this is strange.
It is strange because a lot of truck drivers make sure that their big rigs are in prime condition while their health lacks the same kind of care. That means making some lifestyle changes.
Below, find a list of tips on how truck drivers can maintain their health while being on the road.
1. Eat healthier
However, with proper planning and a commitment to healthy eating, truck drivers can fuel their bodies with the right nutrients. Here are some strategies to help truck drivers maintain a balanced diet:
- Meal planning and preparation: Before hitting the road, prepare and pack meals and snacks. Invest in a small cooler or portable refrigerator where you can ensure that you have access to healthier options instead of relying on convenience stores or fast food.
- Balanced macronutrients: A balanced diet should include a mix of macronutrients. These are meals that incorporate a source of lean protein (e.g., grilled chicken, turkey, fish), complex carbohydrates (e.g., whole grains like brown rice or whole wheat bread), and healthy fats (e.g., avocados, nuts, and olive oil).
- Snack smart: Stock your truck with healthy and portable snacks such as mixed nuts, Greek yogurt, granola bars, and fresh fruit can provide energy and satisfy hunger between meals.
- Mindful eating: Avoid eating while driving. Distracted eating can lead to overconsumption and make it harder to gauge how much you've eaten. Take breaks and find a safe spot to enjoy your meals.
- Choose grilled or baked: When eating at restaurants or truck stops, opt for grilled, baked, or steamed items instead of fried or breaded dishes. This reduces the intake of unhealthy fats.
- Include fruits and vegetables: Aim to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your meals. They provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Pre-cut veggies and fruit are convenient for snacking.
- Read labels: When buying packaged foods, read labels to check for added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats. Choose products with minimal additives and ingredients you can understand.
2. Portion control
While on the road, it's easy to overeat or consume larger portions of food.
Portion control can help truck drivers to maintain a healthy weight, stay energized, and reduce the risk of health issues.
Here is how truck drivers can control their food intake as part of their lifestyle:
Tips for effective portion control:
- Use visual cues: Estimate portion sizes by using visual cues. For example, a serving of protein (like chicken or beef) should be about the size of a deck of cards, while a serving of grains (like rice or pasta) should be about the size of a tennis ball.
- Invest in portion-control containers: Consider using portion-control containers that are specifically designed to help you measure and control your food intake. These containers can be a convenient tool for planning and packing meals.
- Skip the supersizing: Avoid super-sized or extra-large meal options at fast-food restaurants. Opt for regular or smaller-sized items.
- Mindful eating: Pay attention to your body's hunger and fullness cues. Eat slowly and savor each bite. This can help you recognize when you're satisfied and prevent overeating.
- Plan ahead: Plan your meals and snacks in advance. When you have a clear idea of what you'll eat, it's easier to control portion sizes and make healthier choices.
- Avoid eating from containers: Eating directly from a large container, such as a bag of chips or a carton of ice cream, can lead to unintentional overconsumption. Transfer servings to a plate or bowl.
3. Limit processed foods intake
Truck drivers often face the challenge of finding quick and convenient meal options, which often makes them to choose processed food intake.
Processed foods and fast foods are often high in added sugars and salt. These can lead to energy spikes and crashes but, over time, this kind of eating may contribute to health issues such as weight gain.
How truck drivers can achieve eating cleaner tips:
Tips for Limiting Processed Foods:
- Read labels: Check the ingredient lists of packaged foods. Avoid products with long lists of unrecognizable or unhealthy ingredients, especially those high in sugar, sodium, and trans fats.
- Choose whole foods: Prioritize whole foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and legumes. These provide more nutrients and are less processed.
- Prepare meals in advance: Plan and prepare meals and snacks ahead of time. This helps you avoid relying on convenience stores and fast-food restaurants where processed options are prevalent.
- Opt for frozen or canned vegetables: When fresh produce is not readily available, frozen or canned vegetables without added salt or sugar can be a healthier alternative.
- Minimize sugary beverages: Cut down on sugary drinks like soda and energy drinks. Choose water, herbal tea, or unsweetened beverages instead.
- Cook simple meals: Even with limited kitchen facilities in a truck, you can prepare simple, nutritious meals. Consider investing in a small portable stove or slow cooker for cooking on the road.
4. Stay hydrated
Staying properly hydrated is essential for the health and well-being of truck drivers, as it plays a crucial role in maintaining alertness and overall physical health during long hours on the road.
Dehydration can lead to fatigue, reduced concentration, and other health issues, so it's important to make hydration a priority.
Here are some tips for truck drivers to stay hydrated:
- Drink water regularly: Water is the best choice for staying hydrated. Carry a reusable water bottle with you and aim to sip water throughout the day. Try to drink at least 8-10 cups (64-80 ounces) of water daily, but adjust this amount based on your individual needs and activity level.
- Set a schedule: Establish a routine for drinking water. Plan to take a sip of water at specific intervals or when you reach certain milestones on your route, such as at rest stops or during breaks.
- Avoid excessive caffeine: While it's common for truck drivers to rely on caffeinated beverages like coffee or energy drinks for alertness, excessive caffeine can lead to dehydration. Balance your caffeine intake with water consumption.
- Limit sugary and carbonated drinks: Sugary and carbonated beverages, like soda, can contribute to dehydration and provide empty calories. Limit your consumption of these drinks.
- Monitor urine color: Use the color of your urine as an indicator of hydration. Clear to pale yellow urine generally indicates good hydration, while dark yellow or amber urine suggests you need more fluids.
- Be mindful of weather conditions: Hot weather can increase the risk of dehydration. In such conditions, you may need to drink more water to compensate for increased fluid loss through sweat.
- Consume water-rich foods: Incorporate water-rich foods into your diet, such as fruits (e.g., watermelon, oranges) and vegetables (e.g., cucumber, lettuce). These can contribute to your daily water intake.
- Monitor signs of dehydration: Be aware of the symptoms of dehydration, which can include dry mouth, dark urine, fatigue, and dizziness. If you experience these signs, prioritize hydration.
- Invest in a portable cooler: Consider having a small cooler in your truck to keep water and other beverages cold and readily available during your journey.
5. Prioritize sleep
Long hours on the road, irregular schedules, and the constant movement can make it challenging to maintain a healthy sleep pattern.
Here are some tips for truck drivers to help them get adequate sleep:
- Establish a consistent sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on your days off. Consistency helps regulate your body's internal clock.
- Create a comfortable sleeping environment inside the sleeper cab: Invest in a good quality mattress for your sleeper berth. Ensure that your sleeping area is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask if necessary.
- Minimize noise and disturbances: Use earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to block out external sounds. Consider a white noise machine or a smartphone app that generates soothing sounds to drown out background noise.
- Reduce light exposure: Avoid exposure to bright screens (phones, tablets, and computers) before bedtime. The blue light from screens can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle.
- Limit caffeine and stimulants: Avoid caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime, as they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Try to consume these substances at least four to six hours before bedtime.
- Limit heavy meals before bed: Avoid large, heavy, or spicy meals close to bedtime, as they can cause discomfort and disrupt sleep.
- Hydration: Avoid excessive fluid intake right before bed to minimize the need for bathroom trips during the night.
- Obey hours of service (HOS) regulations: Comply with HOS regulations to ensure you have enough time for rest breaks and daily sleep.
6. Exercise regularly
The sedentary nature of long hours on the road can lead to various health issues, but with some creativity and commitment, truck drivers can incorporate exercise into their schedules and prevent pains. See how to prevent back pain for truck drivers.
Here are some exercising tips for truck drivers:
- Bodyweight exercises: You can perform bodyweight exercises in or around your truck. These include push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, and burpees. These exercises require minimal space and no equipment.
- Resistance bands: Carry resistance bands with you. These are lightweight and versatile tools that can add resistance to your exercises, providing a more effective workout.
- Jump rope: A jump rope is a compact and portable piece of exercise equipment. It's an excellent way to get your heart rate up and improve cardiovascular fitness.
- Truck stop amenities: Some truck stops offer fitness facilities or walking trails. Take advantage of these amenities when available.
- Use apps and videos: There are many smartphone apps and online videos that provide workout routines designed for limited space and time. Follow along with these programs to stay active.
- Lift dumbbells or kettlebells: Carry a set of dumbbells or kettlebells in your truck for strength training. These weights can be used for various exercises to build and tone muscles.
- Set realistic goals: Set achievable fitness goals and track your progress. This can help you stay motivated and committed to your exercise routine.
7. Stay hygienic
Practicing proper hygiene can help prevent illness and promote a sense of well-being.
Here are some tips for truck drivers to stay hygienic:
- Hand hygiene: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the restroom, before eating, and after handling cargo. Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol can be used when water and soap are not readily available.
- Oral hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. Carry a travel-sized toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash with you for oral care on the go.
- Body hygiene: Take regular showers and use antiperspirant or deodorant to control body odor. Bring a towel, washcloth, soap, and shampoo for your hygiene routine.
- Foot hygiene: Wash your feet daily and keep them dry. Change your socks regularly, especially if they become sweaty. Foot powder can help keep your feet dry and odor-free.
- Laundry: Carry a small laundry bag and detergent with you. Regularly wash your clothing, especially undergarments and socks, to prevent the buildup of odor and bacteria.
- Dispose of trash: Keep a small trash can or bag in your truck to dispose of used tissues, wrappers, and other waste. Empty it regularly to maintain a clean environment.
- Personal grooming: Maintain personal grooming, such as trimming nails and hair as needed.
- Personal care products: Carry a small bag with personal care products, such as facial cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays.
- Change bedding regularly: If your truck has a sleeper berth, change your bedding regularly to maintain a clean and comfortable sleeping environment.