While many truckers are passionate about the freedom and lifestyle that comes with driving a big rig, life on the road can be hard on your health. Statistically, truck drivers have a greater incidence of health problems than people in other professions due to factors like a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, exposure to fuel and chemicals, and disrupted sleep. Whether you’re just starting a career as a commercial truck driver or have been living the life of a long-haul trucker for some time, it’s important to take steps to keep yourself healthy while you’re driving across America’s highways. Here are 10 tips to staying healthy on the road.
- Drink a lot of water – Many health issues can be caused simply by dehydration, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day will give you more energy, make you feel fuller, and help you to stay more alert and focused. Be sure to keep a big jug of water with you and sip on it throughout the day.
- Go outside – Commercial truck drivers spend a lot of time in a cramped truck cab. Spend a few minutes outside every day, breathe in that fresh air, get exposed to natural sunlight for some vitamin D, and appreciate the restorative power of nature.
- Get moving – If you start to feel fatigued as you drive, you can do some simple stretches in your seat or even use a squeeze ball to just get some blood pumping. Better yet, if you can pull over for a quick stop, you can do some jumping jacks or jog in place to feel more energized.
- Eat light – Big meals, especially greasy fast-food fare, aren’t just bad for your waistline. They take more energy to digest, which in turn can make you sleepy behind the wheel – a dangerous situation. Try to eat lighter, healthier foods – think fruits, vegetables, green smoothies, etc. – and eat smaller portions more frequently. That should help keep your energy levels steady throughout the day.
- Avoid caffeine and energy drinks – Some truckers load up on coffee, soda and energy drinks to help them power through a long drive. Unfortunately, heavy caffeine use can do a lot of long-term damage to your health, as well as dehydrating you further and making you even more tired after the stimulant effect wears off.
- Get enough sleep – It can be hard to get enough sleep while you’re on the road, but it’s important for everyone’s safety that you do. Try to get 8 hours of sleep a night, keep a regular schedule and routine, and use blackout curtains or a sleep mask if you have to sleep during the day.
- Do some mini workouts – It’s impossible for truckers to devote hours to exercise each day, but a few minutes here and there can really make a difference. Put together a few 5- or 10-minute workouts (you can find some on YouTube) and do them whenever you can to keep yourself feeling fit, strong, and healthy.
- Make a meal plan – Truck drivers often get tired of the unhealthy food they get on the road. To eat healthier and save money, consider making your own delicious food. Most cabs are equipped with appliances like a mini-fridge, microwave, stove top, and even a crock pot. You may also want a bullet blender to mix up healthy smoothies and green juices. Plan out your meals in advance and stock up on the food you’ll need so you aren’t tempted by fast food.
- Connect with friends and family – When you’re spending much of your time on the road, it’s easy to feel isolated or disconnected from the rest of the world. That can lead to depression, which can contribute to other health problems as well. Be sure to take time to connect with fellow truckers, family and friends each day; it will make you happier and healthier.
- Play it safe – If you do get sick while driving a big rig, listen to your body. If you are seriously unwell, pull off at a safe area like a truck stop, and contact your dispatch as well as a family member or friend. Trying to drive when you are ill could be a safety hazard to yourself as well as other drivers. You might just need a little break until you feel better, but if you start feeling worse, don’t hesitate to call 911.
If you love the idea of driving a commercial truck as a rewarding career, J-Tech Institute can get you there. Our Commercial Truck Driving Program can help you quickly prepare and take your “Class A” Commercial Driver’s License exam so you can get on the road. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a consultation with our admissions department.