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The Importance of Staying Healthy on the Road

The day-to-day is a grind for truck drivers. Staying alert, safe, compliant and time-efficient are part of your routine. That’s why eating right and exercising gets left behind and disappears from the rear-view mirror most of the time.

The Canadian Cancer Society recommends starting with 10 minutes of activity and building up to at least half an hour of activity a day. They also have great resources about eating well and have a list of foods that may help prevent disease. Let’s look at some things you can do every day to keep you healthier, happier and, most of importantly, safer when you are on that last mile.

Sleep
The best thing you can do during a long road trip is to ensure you get regular shut-eye. Invest in a comfortable pillow to prevent stiff necks and shoulders and maintain a proper sleep schedule to stay fresh and alert for the day (or night!) ahead.

Ergonomics
Since you are sitting for the majority of your workday, make sure to give your body the support it needs. Using a comfortable seat cushion will keep your posture aligned. If you suffer from lower back pain, as many truck drivers do, it makes sense. Look for one that offers a no-slip bottom, memory foam, is easy to clean and has a lifetime warranty.

Pacing yourself
Give yourself enough time to plan out your days. Maintaining a schedule gives you peace of mind so you can focus on what’s in front of you. And don’t forget to plan your breaks – especially when you are trying to stay in shape on the road.

Exercises
As a truck driver, your number one priority is safety. Adding some simple exercises will keep your blood flowing and help burn extra calories. But don’t overdo it. Start by picking one activity you can do, regularly, whether that’s on a break or as a way to wind down before sleep. Here are a few good ones:

  • Squats: The great thing about squats is they strengthen your core and reduce the risk of injury — and they can be done from anywhere with no equipment! Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out. Send hips back to squat down until thighs are at least parallel to the floor while keeping chest lifted. Stand back up to start and repeat. Start with just five at a time and focus on performing the movement correctly.
  • Flex/Resistance Bands: These giant rubber bands are great. You can stow them easily and workout with them practically anywhere. You can do bicep curls, pressing movements, extensions and more. They give you continual resistance, which is not only beneficial for strengthening your muscles, they are easier on your joints. And they’re cost-effective. You can pick up an 11-piece kit for $30.
  • Walking: Just a brisk 10-minute walk gets your heart pumping, gives you fresh air, and it’s a good way to reset your focus. Do this three times a week to start seeing the benefits. Healthline shows that this will improve mood, boost energy, ease joint pain, boost immune function and lower blood sugar. So, get moving whenever you can; it will keep your body healthy, your mind sharp and you safer.

Diet
Diet and exercise are both important for weight loss. Maintaining this balance on the road is especially difficult for drivers. Look to make one change you can stick to first and your confidence will increase over time. Then, look at the next little change. Before you know it, you’ll have a few under your belt (which will be getting smaller!), and you’ll gain momentum.Here are some healthy foods choices that are accessible and will keep you fueled to stay focused and safe:

  • Coffee: It’s actually good for you! (Just drink it in moderation, and cut back on the sugar and cream);
  • Dark chocolate: The higher the cocoa percentage, the more antioxidants it has;
  • Nuts and dried fruit: Make a trail mix and have them ride shotgun!

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sustaining a lifestyle change takes time and commitment. But it can be done. Start slowly and be kind to yourself. These tips can help you stay safer on the road and lead you to a better sense of well-being for the days ahead.