Truck driver health is a topic that doesn’t receive enough attention, for the CDL driver. Life on the road for the CDL driver can become an all consuming lifestyle. Sadly, this lifestyle often reflects a lack of care for one’s own health. Truck drivers on average due to their lifestyle, statistically have more health problems and shorter life spans than people in other careers.
COMMON JOB HEALTH HAZARDS FOR THE TRUCK DRIVER
- Lack of regular exercise
- Cramped work space
- Inhalation of diesel fuel and other chemicals
- Lack of access to nutritionally balanced food, the dominance of too many fast food establishments
- Unbalanced sleep routine
- Excessive stressful situations
These are but a few of the common obstacles to good health, the average truck driver faces on a regular basis. Research now confirms that the above hazards do affect the health of the professional truck driver.
PROFESSIONAL CDL DRIVERS – IT’S TIME TO MAKE SOME CHANGES!
Overcoming the obstacles to good health is certainly a challenge for the truck driver. Forming new habits one at a time is a good way to get started to improve your health. We give you some easy to follow tips which will help you feel better, when on the road.The following tips and advice are practical and easy to implement.
We suggest picking just ONE tip at a time and implementing it into your schedule for a few weeks, or until such time as you feel you could tackle another one. Be proud of your health accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. DO NOT compare yourself and goals to those of anyone else. You are unique and so are your needs, so set the bar for YOU! Do the best you can.
Here are some tips for the best truck driver health, that will benefit you as a professional driver!
10 TIPS FOR BETTER HEALTH, ESPECIALLY FOR THE CDL DRIVER
- STAY HYDRATED
Many people don’t know this, but many health issues arise from dehydration. The body doesn’t give signals to ‘drink’ until it’s already in a state of ‘dehydration’. When you sense that you are thirsty, really you are already dehydrated. Ideally, try to sip at your water all day long rather than just drinking when you are thirsty. Drink the best ‘quality’ water you can find.
How much water to drink daily? The common formula says to consume 1/2 your body weight in ounces. Eg. weight 170 lb. = 85 ounces means drink approx. 10.5 cups of water each day. Sounds like a lot, but work up to drinking this amount if you’re not already. Tip — Keep a drinking container with you always, to sip away throughout the day.
- EAT FRUITS & VEGETABLES
Yep. Not the first time you’ve heard this piece of advice I’ll bet! Do try to eat as more fruits and vegetables throughout the course of EVERY day. Not only do they contain lots of great vitamins and minerals for overall health, they help digestion, too. 5-10 per day is good. more is better. Just a heads up, don’t overdo it by eating too much fruit. Fruit is still a source of sugar to the body. Best nutrition and benefit: #1 – Raw fruit #2 – Frozen fruit #3 – Canned fruit. Tip — Make a ‘shake’ or ‘smoothie’ when on the road. It’s a great way to get lots of the good stuff you need into you!
- AVOID STIMULANTS
Use of stimulants in our industry was once wide spread and commonplace. However, coffee and energy drinks will take their toll on your health. Especially, heavy use of these drinks. It’s best to avoid coffee and energy drinks completely. You may not know it, but coffee will actually dehydrate you. These drinks are intended to give your mind and body short term artificial boosts of energy and alertness. Your body knows when rest is needed. Don’t try to bypass the need for rest by overusing these drinks. Tip — If you do enjoy coffee or energy drinks, at least try to cut back on the amount you drink.
- EAT LIGHT
Eating light when on the road can be a good idea for a few reasons. If you’re eating a few big heavy meals/day, it can take a lot of your energy to digest them. This can result in a sleepy feeling when behind the wheel. Of course you’ll need to pay attention to any specific dietary needs you may have such as blood sugar or blood pressure issues, for example. But eating lightly or just eating smaller portions of the foods you like, will go a long way, to keeping you feeling better. Tip — If you pack and bring food from home, pack your meals and snacks each with just a bit less in the portions. Over time, you can continue to gradually reduce the size of the portions, so you’ll hardly notice the reduction.
- EAT LESS JUNK FOOD
Ease up on the junk food, such as potato chips, chocolate bars, fries, burgers etc. They’ll plug up your arteries and cause lots of other problems too. Fatty, high calorie foods are a big reason for poor truck driver health. Find other healthy things which are easy on the ‘bod’. Tips — Some decent snacks to try –walnuts, almonds, apples, whole grain crackers with small amounts of cheese.
- A GREEN DRINK EVERYDAY
This is one of the best things you can do for your health, especially with an ‘on the fly’ lifestyle, and not good access to health foods on a regular basis. It can be a really simple way to get some energy and get a lot of the good stuff into you!
Tip — If you’ve never taken ‘greens’ before, start with just a very little amount and increase your daily dose up to the manufacturer’s recommendations. In a cup with a lid, add at least 8 oz+ of good quality water (or milk or almond milk or any kind of nutmilk), your ‘greens powder’ and a scoop of protein powder too, if you like. This drink can be an excellent meal substitute when you simply don’t have the time to eat properly. It will give you energy and essential nutrients. If you have a BULLET or small blender in your truck, you can throw in some extra goodies like some fruit, or spinach or boosters too!
Most of us don’t pay enough attention to sleep. This can be a huge issue for the professional driver! Try to get sufficient sleep every night. 8 hours/night, with a regular bed time and rising times are a good idea, but challenging for the truck driver. Proper rest is vital — it regenerates the body and helps keep the mind sharp. Stress can cause you to have trouble sleeping. Try to find ways to really relax and destress, before bedtime. This could be some favorite exercise or reading. Try to find things you can do to really let your brain ’empty out’ and block out the world! Get out of the truck for breaks at least a few times each day, to avoid what the old time truckers called ‘white line fever’. Nothing de-stresses as well as blocks of time from work. Tip — Sleep in a dark area (close curtains for more darkness in the bunk)or with a sleep mask to keep melatonin levels high. High melatonin levels will result in a better quality sleep.
Since getting a balanced diet can be challenging on the road, consider taking a high quality multi-vitamin daily. Consult a nutritional expert or naturopath for more specific supplements suited for your needs. Tip — If you’re making yourself a green drink or a healthy shake each day, you’re probably getting enough of the good stuff daily and wouldn’t need to take extra supplements.
- HEALTHY WEIGHT
All related to the transient life style, staying at your ideal weight can be tough. Being inactive for long periods, lack of decent food choices and stress on the job, can all lead to carrying around more pounds than you need. Find out what your weight should be and stick as close to it as you’re able. Being the right weight for your body type, height and bone structure is important for numerous reasons. Body composition is important too. Find a naturopath who can determine your water content, bone, fat and muscle composition. You can be an ideal weight, but perhaps be lacking in water and muscle. Tip — Chances are if you’re following several of the above tips, you will be close to your ideal weight.
- GET EXERCISE REGULARLY
This is a tough one too. At the end of your driving day, you’re tired from being behind the wheel and just want to chill right? At least try to get out for a short brisk walk for 15 minutes or so, to get your circulation moving and breathe the air. Tips — The secret here is to find an activity you like to do, which fits reasonably well into your daily schedule. Try to make exercise/activity part of your daily routine.
BE REALISTIC — TAKEdfg SMALL STEPS FOR SUCCESS
Set some realistic goals for yourself. Don’t try to do everything all at the same time. You’ll just become frustrated and set yourself up for failure. Try mastering one thing at a time, eg. increasing your water intake over the course of several weeks.maybe just something as simple as adding an ounce to the amount you drink everyday, until you reach your goal.
Good health for the truck driver IS possible. Be willing to change, but make the changes at your own pace.