Truck driving can be a very rewarding career, but it certainly has its challenges. One of the biggest is health issues that can come with the job. Long hours in the driver’s seat, as well as the isolating nature of trucking, can have serious consequences for your health. There are many things that drivers can do to reduce their risk of health issues and support their mental wellbeing. These are some of our favorite tips for making healthier choices on the road:
Eating healthy on the road is one of the biggest challenges drivers face. According to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, seven out of 10 drivers are obese, which puts them at a higher risk for sleep apnea, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and a number of other health problems. With a little bit of thought and planning, you can be on your way to making healthier eating choices behind the wheel.
– Stock your refrigerator and pantry with healthy snacks. Stick to fresh fruits and vegetables, unsalted mixed nuts, whole-grain crackers, and Greek yogurt.
– Prep your meals at home ahead of time so that you’re less likely to eat out.
– Start your morning with a healthy breakfast packed with protein and fiber to get your body’s metabolism going and keep you feeling full longer.
– Cut back on energy drinks and beverages high in sugar.
– Eat smaller meals more often, rather than three large meals a day. This will help keep you more full and less likely to snack in between.
– When eating out, opt for baked or grilled meats, and substitute salad for your French fries. Swap out your bread for lettuce wraps and limit how much salad dressing you use.
– Remember that a big key to eating healthy is portion control.
Hydration can be hard for truck drivers. It’s common to think that drinking less water during the day is helpful because you won’t need to make as many stops for the bathroom. In reality, dehydration can be very harmful to your health and safety. It can lead to things like mental fatigue, kidney stones, and muscle cramps.
– Aim for drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should aim for 90 ounces of water a day.
– Drink more water starting about 20 minutes before your next major stop. This will allow you to use the restroom during that stop and ideally reducing the number of additional stops.
– Keep a water bottle in your truck and accessible to you at all times. Use one that has a measurement on the side to help you keep track of what you’re drinking. You can also download a hydration app that will keep track for you and send you reminders if you’re not drinking enough water.
– Educate yourself on the signs of mild dehydration. Some of these include lightheadedness, sleepiness, dry skin, and a dry or sticky mouth.
– Consume water-rich foods like cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, and grapefruit.
– Reduce your sodium and caffeine intake – both of which can contribute to dehydration.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. A study by the National Institute of Health found that many truck drivers suffer from conditions such as depression, chronic loneliness, anxiety, chronic sleep disturbances, and other emotional issues. Not getting the help you need can lead to things like lack of focus on the job, poor decision-making skills, and destructive behaviors.
– Ask for help. It seems simple, but this can be the first step in making a positive change. In addition to sharing how you’re feeling with those closest to you, many mental health professionals can be available in telehealth. In fact, Carter Express drivers have access to free Teledoc services. This means you won’t have to schedule physical or mental health appointments around your home time.
– Stick to a routine. Having a positive daily routine gives you control and structure over certain parts of your day.
– Take time to meditate to reduce stress. If needed, employ deep breathing exercises to help with anxiety.
– Find ways to stay connected to your support system. Utilize video chats, phone calls, and text messages during breaks to keep in touch regularly. Bring a few things from home that give you comfort while you’re away.
– Use your Carter dispatcher as another level of support. We’re family at Carter, and your dispatcher is there to help you.
– Follow these tips to help you deal with job stress. (https://carter-express.com/how-to-deal-with-stress/)
– If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Truck driving is a sedentary job. Drivers spend most of their days behind the wheel. Getting and staying fit can help you lose weight, stay in better physical health, and can even benefit your mental health.
– Commit to going for a walk every day. Depending on where you are, you might also have access to hiking trails or a scenic park.
– Utilize truck stops that have indoor or outdoor fitness areas. Some TA/Petro locations even offer walking trails.
– Join a gym that has multiple locations spread out around the country. This way, you can pop in for a quick workout wherever you happen to be traveling.
– Take advantage of free online workouts. You can find workout videos on Facebook and Youtube and workout routines in online magazine articles and blogs. Pinterest is a great way to find some of these resources. Many of these workouts can easily be done right outside your truck and require minimal to no equipment.
– Invest in small fitness equipment that won’t take up a lot of room in your cab. Some of these include a yoga mat, small-weighted dumbbells, and resistance bands. Many workouts can be done without an entire gym. If you prefer cycling, carry a foldable bicycle in your cab.
How are you staying healthy – both physically and mentally – as a truck driver? We love to hear from our drivers about what’s working for them. Don’t forget that you can also reach out to the Carter Express Driver Relations team at 800-738-7705 x1270 if you need help.