Health and wellness are major concerns for drivers in the commercial trucking industry, as reported in a study by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Eating well, physical exercise, staying hydrated, and quality sleep can be difficult to attain while on the road. Fortunately, small lifestyle changes can help improve a driver’s physical and mental health. As you start to plan your New Year’s resolutions, Commercial Truck Trader has put together six health hacks for drivers in 2022.
1. Eat Healthier
It can be so tempting to take the exit for the nearest fast food eatery when you get hungry. Instead, pack healthy snacks and meals that are easy to store and eat in your truck or work van. If you do decide to stop, use websites and apps like RoadFood and Yelp to find restaurants with healthier options nearby. A balanced diet promotes good nutrition, reduces stress levels, and can reduce chronic diseases, which are all issues in the trucking industry.
Start your day with a filling, nutritious breakfast like eggs, a protein bar, oatmeal, or high-protein yogurt. Pack or stop for a protein-filled lunch, such as wraps, salads and sandwiches, which can be prepared in advance and stored in your cab. For dinner, pair easy-to-prepare dishes like chicken, pork chops, beef stew, and more with a vegetable side dish.
2. Drink More Water
Dehydration can lead to headaches, fatigue, and other symptoms that can make a driver’s time behind the wheel rough. By staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water, you’ll be healthier and have energy for even the longest hauls. While the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends 11.5 cups per day for women and 15.5 cups per day for men, the ideal amount of water to drink varies from person to person. We suggest keeping a reusable water bottle in your cab to drink and refill throughout the day. You can even add fresh fruit or flavor to your water to give it a boost.
3. Avoid Extra Caffeine
Beginning your day with a cup of coffee can be the jumpstart you need in the morning. However, you might want to rethink those extra cups throughout the day, along with a midday energy drink. While caffeine gives you the feeling of being awake, excess amounts can cause insomnia, digestive issues, and high blood pressure. Caffeine also dehydrates the body. If you do have a second cup of coffee, pair it with a bottle of water.
4. Take Supplements
When you can’t get the nutrients you need from food, take a daily multivitamin or supplements to help improve your health. Vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium promote bone health, while zinc supports the immune system. These are just a few of the beneficial vitamins and minerals that can be found in a multivitamin or taken on their own. These supplements can give your body the healthy boosts it needs while you’re on the road. Remember, it’s always best to speak with your primary care physician before taking any supplements to ensure you’re taking them the proper way.
5. Exercise When You Can
Even the smallest amounts of physical activity can be beneficial for a driver’s health, especially after hours of sitting behind the wheel of a big rig. The Department of Health and Human Services suggests getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. Drivers can squeeze in time for a brisk walk, run, and even strength training during long hauls and when they aren’t on the road. Check out our previous infographic with exercises to help drivers stay fit.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Poor sleep can lead to higher stress levels. Instead of unwinding with hours of TV or endless scrolling on your phone after a shift, go to sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 18 and 64 should try to get seven to nine hours of sleep. Quality sleep can keep your brain sharp and improve your energy levels, which are both important for commercial drivers.
Whether you’re concerned about getting sick, or you’re setting goals for the New Year, drivers who prioritize their overall health and well-being are sure to have a better quality of life and longer careers. Start 2022 off right by putting these health hacks into practice.