Truck drivers must be able to drive safely. For their sake, and the sake of all the other drivers on the road. So truck driver health and wellness is an important topic in the industry.
In the US, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA, requires all commercial vehicle drivers to obtain a DOT medical card, showing they’re fit for the road. For drivers in good health, a 24-month card will usually be issued after the screening is complete. But for some drivers with new or pre existing medical conditions, temporary cards may be issued. These temporary cards give the driver time to properly correct or address the medical issue discovered.
For many drivers, this isn’t always that easy. The stress many drivers already have can compound with the added stress of a newly found medical problem. Factor in the sedentary nature of the job, and these medical issues might not be that easy to correct. Or correct in time to meet the deadline on the medical card. If you’re looking to improve your truck driver health and wellness, here are 10 tips from an expert to get you started.
Bob Perry, the Trucker Trainer, has worked to bring wellness expertise to the driver community for decades.
Bob brings a unique perspective to the transportation industry. He is the son and brother of career drivers—both owner-operators for the last 75 years. He’s passionate about working with truckers on their health and wellness. Specifically as it relates to drivers losing their jobs as a result of health issues.
“We lose thousands of drivers every year from failing their Recertification Medical Exams. Many of these failures are due to elevated blood pressure, high glucose & BMI’s levels. Weight plays a significant factor in these cases. We need to support our drivers with the tools necessary to live and work healthy on the road”
Speaking with Bob, he’s provided these great tips to help drivers get and stay fit for the long haul.
Tip 1: Goal planning
Sit down and write out what exactly it is you want to achieve. The goal could range from weight loss, to building strength and endurance, or even to relieve depression.
Tip 2: Be honest with yourself and make your goals realistic
Everyone is made up differently. Never compare yourself to someone else; it’s genetically impossible!
Tip 3: Now that you have your goal, write down the steps you are going to take to get there
It’s impossible to reach that higher level without taking one step at a time. No time like the present to set a new goal! February is a good time as any other to make your new year’s resolutions stick. Goals can be as big or small as you need them to be. But be certain that they’re attainable. For each goal you set, break it down into bite-sized pieces. If you’ve got a goal to lose some weight, a good plan might start with simply cutting out one soda each day. Then work to do that every day. Eventually, it becomes a healthy habit.
Tip 4: Water, you need to flush out your system
Drinking enough water and eating healthy foods are so important! If you are dehydrated, it impacts almost every aspect of your body. You don’t think as clearly, your skin shows signs of stress, and it might even make you feel extra tired.
Tip 5: Protein, first thing in the AM
The same goes for eating a healthy diet. Starting the day with protein can help you feel full longer and keep the urge for unhealthy snacking at bay. These tips are good for any trucker looking to start some healthy habits over the road.
Tip 6: Be prepared
Have your protein ready for the next morning and snacks for the day.
Tip 7: Begin your workout routine slowly; two to three times a week is great
Your workout should consist of strength training and cardiovascular exercise.
Tip 8: Think ahead, plan your next workout
Getting into an exercise routine is great advice for any truck driver health and wellness plans. Like Bob mentioned earlier, be realistic and have a plan when starting. Short walks a few times a day, or even some quick exercises here and there, might work better than jumping into a plan to spend 2 hours in the gym every day. Bite-sized progress here is the best plan for long-term success.
Tip 9: Staying motivated
The key to long-term success in being healthy, know how to motivate yourself over and over again. If you do the same thing, you will stay the same.
Tip 10: Last but not least, never beat yourself up if you fall off the program
Avoid going down the unhealthy road two days in a row, it then becomes a habit. Nobody is perfect. Sometimes life gets in the way of any well thought out plan. When you try something new, there’s always a chance that you’re going to have good days and bad days. The key takeaway from Bob related to this is to know that each day is a new opportunity to be happy and successful. If your motivation wanes, have a plan to get yourself back on track. And at each stumble, know that you can dust yourself off and get back on the road to a healthier you!