Trucking & Health
The life of a truck driver can be an unhealthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. I know this isn’t groundbreaking news. It’s obvious that a job can lead to unhealthy habits when it requires long hours of sitting, lots of time away from home, tight deadlines, and little access to common amenities such as a kitchen or exercise equipment.
But it doesn’t need to be that way.
Between technology and a little bit of planning, drivers needn’t live unhealthy lifestyles or suffer the health consequences.
Eating Healthy Over-the-Road
Stop the fast food. It’s so easy to get in the habit of grab-and-go fast food. Truckstops often have them in their stores or are located right next to a fast food place. And with our tight timelines and running HOS clocks, drivers often just grab a burger and fries and go down the road.
This is fine sometimes, but it’s really terrible when we do it every day.
Try to preplan your meals before you hit the road and make your healthy meals at home and freeze them. It’s easy to carry a microwave, toaster oven, and/or grill in your truck. Reheat your meals which will most definitely be tastier, healthier, and cheaper than buying food on the road. Check out our blog for some great recipes for healthy meals and snacks. We post 1 or 2 recipes per month.
Many grocery stores and Walmarts have room available to park a truck. Real food is available if your premade meals run out or you want some fresh healthy snacks. Mobile apps like Trucker Path are useful tools to find truckstops and Walmarts. There’s really no excuse for regularly eating unhealthy food while on the road.
Also see Afternoon Burn Out: There’s More to it than a Bad Night’s Sleep.
Staying Fit Over-the-Road
Drive 11 hours and stop for ten, then repeat. That is a grind of a truck driver. That’s a lot of sitting with very little movement.
We don’t need to do much exercise to stay healthy. We just need to come up with a bit of a 30-minute daily routine, or almost daily.
Drivers can stay physically fit by simply walking or jogging daily. We have a driver that walks a couple of laps around the perimeter of the truck stop parking lot daily. You can buy low impact resistance bands if you’re looking for muscle tone and they are low cost and take up little room. We have several articles where you’ll find simple, do-able ideas to stay fit.
You’ll feel better exercising because it’s a great stress reliever – and we are in a high-stress industry. Plus, you’ll just feel better when you’re taking steps to take care of you. It’s better for everyone.
Proper sleep has physical, mental, and safety benefits. Sleep is good and it’s one of my favourite activities. Why not? I get to sleep!
It’s one thing to have a bad night’s sleep every once in a while but it’s another thing to consistently have sleeping issues or to not feel refreshed after you have slept. Sleep Apnea is a major problem and we see higher than normal rates of sleep apnea in the trucking industry.
We have an article about sleep apnea and how to spot the signs. Give it a read. It’s important to see a doctor if you’re having sleep problems.
Sleeping problems are treatable and sometimes they are a symptom of a larger physical or mental health problem.
Stay Connected with Family
Truck drivers are often isolated. It’s the nature of the job. We’re away from home all the time and often have little contact with loved ones.
This can lead to relationship problems and even mental health problems. It’s important to stay connected with friends and family.
Technology can help us do that better than ever. Mobile apps can help you stay connected with images and video chat. It’s not the same as being home but it sure beats no contact or texting. Most social networks have a chat and video chat feature, and apps like Zoom are made specifically for video.
Making healthy living over-the-road takes dedication and forming positive habits. One thing that is useful is to talk with your spouse about it. They can help you make a simple plan and stay on track and accountable.
Your health should be a high priority. Take time to make a plan with actionable steps and a few simple goals. Write it down and keep track of the actions you’re taking. You’ll find your easy and simple steps add up over time.