Truck drivers are a godsend. They play a critical role in ensuring people get the food and products they need to live well. Sadly though, many truckers sacrifice their health to get their jobs done.
Their physical health, in particular, can suffer greatly. For example, long hours of driving can lead to neck, back, and posture issues. In addition, the lack of healthy food options on the go can contribute to obesity. These two adverse effects alone justify focusing more on physical wellness.
If you’re trying to figure out how to prioritize your physical wellness better as a truck driver, you’re in luck. Here are six tips for ensuring you’re as physically healthy as possible while on the road.
Prioritize Preventative Care
Preventative care is critical in maintaining physical wellness for anyone. It lowers your risk of diseases, disabilities, and death because you can quickly catch potential health issues and do something about them.
But unfortunately, a Singlecare study revealed that 24% of American respondents hadn’t received any preventative care in over a year. In addition, 29% didn’t even have a primary care provider. So, even if people want preventive care, they aren’t set up to receive it without a primary care physician.
Ultimately, your gateway to good physical health is preventative care. At the very least, establish a primary care physician and get your annual physical. See an optometrist for your vision. Visit your dentist twice a year to ensure you don’t have any oral health issues that can lead to other physical health challenges.
Also, you may have to get a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical to obtain your commercial driver’s license for truck driving. Embrace this exam, as it helps determine whether you’re physically able to operate a commercial vehicle safely.
Bring Supplies That Support Physical Wellness
It’s no secret that truck drivers spend a lot of time on the road. You’re confined to a much smaller space with less time and resources for maintaining physical wellness. That said, you can still bring supplies that support physical health.
For example, even though you’re limited to the confines of a truck cab for most of the day, you’re being exposed to more sun and ultraviolet rays than you may realize. Although this may boost your mood, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation can harm your eyes, triggering conditions like photokeratitis, cataracts, and pterygium. Bring sunglasses with you, and your eyes will get the protection they need.
You should also consider bringing:
- Health vitamins and supplements;
- Lots of water and healthy snacks;
- A back brace or an automotive seat cushion;
- A yoga mat, exercise bands, and dumbbells;
Put together an on-the-road kit with the above supplies to keep your physical wellness intact while you’re on the road.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Truck drivers were twice as likely to be obese compared to other US workers.” Obesity itself threatens your physical wellness. But it can also lead to other health risks, such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
The lack of healthy food options on the road and constantly fueling with caffeinated drinks full of sugar mainly lead to obesity in truck drivers. Reducing caffeine, meal-prepping highly nutritious meals, and drinking more water can help you stave off obesity and boost your energy levels.
Find Simple Ways to Exercise
Honestly, truck drivers don’t have a whole lot of time for physical activity. Once you get on the road, you usually stay on the road until you reach your destination. Still, you need exercise to maintain your physical wellness. So, where and how do you fit it in?
Start by taking a brisk walk at every rest stop, weigh station, and destination. If you have extra time, consider breaking out your yoga mat and doing strength training with your dumbbells and bands. Even better if you have a gym membership with locations across the country and have time to get in a few sessions each trip.
Adhere to a Healthy Sleep Schedule
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, you can drive a maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive hours off. And you’re only required to take a 30-minute break after eight straight hours of driving.
Many truck drivers will drive a maximum of 11 hours a day and only take the required 30-minute break. This can be incredibly taxing on your mind and body, disrupting your sleep pattern in the process.
Creating a more balanced driving schedule with more than one break is ideal. But if you are going to drive long hours, you must at least adhere to a healthy sleep schedule. Everything in our body needs sleep to function correctly, from our brains to our bones to our disease-fighting agents.
Get the preferred eight hours of sleep each night to ensure your physical body gets the time to rest and recharge each day.
Listen to Your Body
Out of everyone in the world, you know your body best. When something is off, you’ll be the first to know it. Instead of ignoring the signs of something wrong or different with your physical health, listen closely to what your body is telling you.
Pull over and call for immediate medical attention if it’s an emergency. If it’s an issue that persists over time and isn’t going away, make an appointment with your primary care physician the next time you’re off to see what’s happening.
A majority of taking care of yourself is listening to your body and taking action.
Although many truckers sacrifice their physical wellness to meet the job’s demands, we hope this trend ends soon. Make sure your physical health is a priority as long as you’re in this line of work with the tips above.
About the author: Indiana Lee is a writer, reader, and jigsaw puzzle enthusiast from the Pacific Northwest. An expert on business operations, leadership, marketing, and lifestyle, you can connect with her on LinkedIn.
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