In Part I of this series, I discussed some statistics that compared the health of long-haul truck drivers to that of the rest of the workforce. (If you have not read Part I yet, I suggest you glimpse that over first by clicking here) I found that truck drivers, on the whole, were in slightly worse health than the national working population. The statistics I found prompted me to write a follow-up piece. I will be discussing some tips and tricks for all you truckers out there to stay healthy while on the road.
This article can serve as a starting point for anyone that has thought about losing weight but doesn’t know where to begin. Everything below is trucker friendly, meaning the exercises can be done in or around your rig with little to no equipment necessary.
The main benefit of stretching is first and foremost going to be increased flexibility, which will help you more easily perform the day to day duties of your job. Additionally, if you have back pain from driving then stretching may help to alleviate some, if not all, of your pain. Wrist pain, common among truck drivers, can also be treated with some simple stretches. Check out the short video below to see for yourself.
This is the simplest and easiest form of exercise to do. It’s free, easy on your joints, and requires absolutely no type of equipment. The benefits of walking are tremendous as well. Walking can help to improve circulation, lighten your mood, lead to weight loss, improve your sleep, and even lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s. Everyone should try to get out and walk each day, especially if you are spending the majority of your work day sitting behind the wheel. If you are OTR or regional, consider parking farther away from the truck stop when you shut down for the night. To stay motivated during your walk I would recommend grabbing a good pair of headphones and listening to your favorite music or podcast. If you’re looking for a free trucking podcast I would recommend checking out the Payload Podcast by Truck Driver Power.It’s full of great industry insight, helpful tips, and interesting interviews.
TDP Pro Tip:Did you know that walking around your tractor-trailer 32 times is equal to about 1 mile?
Kettlebells are a great piece of workout equipment that you can easily store inside the cab of your truck. They have become very popular lately and can even be picked up at your local Walmart for about $20 (depending on what weight you get). Men’s Journal does a great job summing up the benefits of kettlebell exercises:
“Kettlebell exercises demand the use of multiple joints, which engages all the larger muscles of the body. Compound kettlebell moves burn calories faster than isolation moves, which only work one muscle.” — Men’s Journal
They also have a great beginner’s guide to using kettlebells that you can findhere.
Try to do a couple simple bodyweight exercises every day. Some good ones to try are pushups, dips, planks, air squats and crunches. The only thing you may want to consider buying for these exercises is a yoga mat. You can find one atWalmart for $10 (that’s a great buy). If you are hesitant about spending money to improve your health then consider this:
“Experts at Harvard estimate that for each dollar spent on preventative health, including time spent walking, you save $2.71 in future health costs.” — Reader’s Digest
TDP Pro Tip: You can do dips inside your rig by placing one hand on the back of the driver seat and the other on the back of the passenger seat.
Here’s a good example of a bodyweight workout you could do in/around your truck:
Having a well-balanced diet is easily the most important aspect of staying healthy on the road. However, it can be difficult to find clean nutritious food. Truck stops generally do not have the healthiest options and many restaurants only serve up high-calorie homestyle meals.
Although it can be difficult, try switching out some of the unhealthy food you may be eating for some healthier options. You might start by getting a large soda instead of an extra large. Eventually work your way down to a small soda and then substitute soda altogether with water. The calories from soda, juices, sports drinks, and sweet tea add up. “Calories from beverages do little to curb your hunger, but an extra 100 calories per day contributes to 10 pounds of weight gain annually.”
Consider starting your day off on the right foot by having a breakfast that is high in fiber in order to leave you feeling full for longer.
“Oatmeal and other high-fiber breakfast cereals paired with nonfat or low-fat milk and fresh fruit are quick and easy breakfast options that can be prepared while on the road.” — Livestrong.com
Healthy snacking is critical when on the road. Snacks like apples, bananas, oranges, almonds, unsalted peanuts, and berries are all great to keep in the truck because they do not require refrigeration. Also, bringing along snacks like these will help you fight off hunger while also avoiding fast food, which will result in you saving time, money, and calories.
The benefits of eating healthy, working out, and, ultimately, losing weight are tremendous. One driver I spoke with, Shannon, 53, has been able to lose almost 90 lbs in only 4 months! Shannon said the most difficult thing he had to do was change his attitude towards food. He used to turn to food for comfort or out of boredom but now he turns to food for fuel and nutrition. By doing this he has seen “nothing but benefits from it.”
Since losing the weight he has noticed that his knee and ankle pain have completely gone away. Furthermore, he’s seen an increase in energy and a drop in the price tag of his clothes after going from a size 4XL to an XL.
Getting on top of your health will help to prevent some diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar, which are all common among long-haul truck drivers. (For a complete list of chronic diseases found to be present among many truck drivers, check out the first part of this article“Health and Trucking: Part I,” here.)
Shannon’s story is truly remarkable and his results may not be common, however, if he can do it at age 53 then so can you. As he wisely said:
“It’s certainly not typical but if I can do it anybody can do it. You just have to have your mind right.”
There you have it, folks. It’s never too late to get on top of your health. Your body will thank you!
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(Originally Published on Medium)