Tips for Truckers and Transportation Workers
A typical day in the life of a Long-haul truck driver consists of several hundred miles hauling cargo from point A to B, truck stop showers, fast food meals, and a lot of solitary time. Many drivers log thousands of miles every month, which lends itself to a challenging lifestyle that can often lead to unhealthy habits.
The sedentary nature of the work itself creates significant barriers to certain healthy behaviors. Drivers often find themselves drinking enormous amounts of caffeine, smoking cigarettes, and snacking on junk food just to pass the time.
Obesity (69%) and current smoking (51%) were twice as prevalent in long-haul truck drivers as in the 2010 U.S. adult working population. 61% of drivers reported having two or more of the following risk factors: hypertension, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, no physical activity, and 6 or fewer hours of sleep per 24-hr period.
Wellness is not only crucial to the driver’s health, but also for the employer. Healthy employees lead to lower healthcare costs, minimized turnover, and a reduction in safety fines and accident costs for employers.
We’ve put together a few healthy tips geared towards truck drivers and transportation workers, to help you stay safe and alert, avoid burnout, and decrease certain health risk factors.
Smarter Fast Food
Many truck-stops now have an island or two with healthier on-the-go snacks, like pretzels and hummus, protein packs, salads, and wraps. Try to browse those sections before heading straight for the pizza.
Grocery stores also typically have sufficient parking for large vehicles and tractor-trailers. Some healthy grocery store grab-and-go items include:
- Pre-washed bags of salad mix and veggies
- Pre-cut fruit
- Deli meat and roasted or grilled chicken
- Deli subs, sandwiches and wraps
- Better for you drinks like coconut water, iced teas, kombucha, and iced black coffee
Exercise is difficult to fit into a driver’s long day. When you’ve been sedentary for that long, it’s difficult to find the motivation. Here are some suggestions to reduce that friction:
- Take a walk/jog – always have a pair of running shoes to slip on and go
- Light weightlifting – try to keep some light weights, exercise bands or kettlebells in tow. It makes it more convenient to get in 15 minutes of exercise here and there.
- On-Demand videos – for a person on-the-go, finding on-demand workouts is key. Search YouTube by equipment type or time available – you’ll be surprised by the variety!
Get your Zzzz’s
Sleep is paramount to good health. When sleeping in the cab of your truck, make sure you invest in your mattress and pillow – you can’t afford body aches, pains, and fatigue. Memory foam pads are relatively inexpensive and add support and comfort to an otherwise stiff mattress.
It’s also worth investing in a portable fan for warmer months and a portable heater for cooler ones to keep the cabin at an optimal temperature. A fan doubles as a white noise machine to help you get more restful sleep.
Feed Your Mind
Thousands of miles a month can mean a lot of monotonous views, lonely hours, and physical inactivity. It’s incredibly easy to develop bad habits that distract from the road. A sharp mind is a healthy mind, give it some juice.
- Listen to your favorite authors and stories while you drive. If you’ve got the time, you might as well use it as an opportunity to learn something new or digest a great novel.
- News Radio and Podcasts. Talk radio is another great way to listen to a variety of fascinating topics or stay updated on current events.
- Language CDs or apps. The best way to learn a new language is to listen to it daily. A long drive by yourself is the perfect time to practice your dialect without the pressure of anyone else listening.
- Make sure you’ve got a few favorite playlists to cycle through. Try to create different playlists for different moods, so you can mix it up without having to search for music on the road.
Connect with Loved Ones
When you’re deprived of human interaction for most of your day, it’s nice to hear a familiar voice. Hands-free devices help you drive safely while checking in with friends and family. Use rest stops to facetime those closest to you.
If you have kids or nieces/nephews, you can get them involved by taking pictures of your travels or bringing them home little knickknacks from the places you’ve been.