by Pride Transport | Apr 20, 2023
Similar to many careers spent sitting at a desk, truck driving is certainly a more sedentary job. Being behind the wheel all day doesn’t have to be a cause for decline in a truck driver’s health, but unfortunately, truck drivers are twice as likely to be obese than people who hold other jobs.
Obesity can have a trickle down effect and potentially put drivers at risk for other issues, like heart disease and high cholesterol, while also making it harder to engage in physical activity. And just like a domino, less physical activity can in turn affect sleep, stress, and general alertness — all of which can make driving dangerous.
Staying healthy while driving is important for your own health and the safety of others, so taking charge of physical and mental wellbeing should be a top priority if you spend your working hours on the road. There are many aspects to overall health, so pick a tool you think will do the most good (for your body and/or spirit!) and that feels accessible. Not sure where to start? Keep reading!
Staying Healthy on the Road: Physical Health
Just like you maintain the upkeep of your truck and make sure everything is running well, you need to make time for taking care of your body, too! After all, how can you do your job if you’re not strong enough to perform basic truck maintenance and other routine tasks? Your body deserves to operate as a well-oiled machine. Ensure you’re giving it what it needs while you’re on the road.
Finding healthy meals and snacks while traveling long miles can be tricky. The ubiquity of fast-food restaurants at rest stops can make it tempting to grab a burger at every meal, but those foods don’t always leave people feeling their best. Make sure you have regular access to healthy foods by bringing homemade meals with you, or packing a cooler or mini fridge full of high-protein snack options like nuts, hard-boiled eggs, hummus, or string cheese. Set a goal to eat one big salad each day and avoid consuming sugary drinks.
Get enough sleep
As a driver, you have lots of different tasks to manage during your working hours, but did you know your body has a job to do, too? It’s hard at work repairing itself while you sleep! Catching an ample amount of Zs is especially important for big-rig operators, who risk harming others if they drive drowsy.
Ensure you get enough sleep while away from home by taking time to set up your sleeper cab or hotel room so it’s extra cozy. Invest in a white noise machine or noise-canceling headphones, don an eye mask or use blackout curtains, and try to keep stimulants like caffeine and blue light from your electronic devices far away from your sleeping quarters.
Take regular breaks
Federal regulations prevent truck drivers from operating their vehicle more than 8 hours at a time without taking at least a 30-minute break. Not only do you legally need to let yourself rest, but it’s important to switch up your scenery every now and then. While on your break, go for a quick walk, eat a healthy meal, take a power nap, or call a loved one. For your body’s sake, rest can be just as important as work!
Drivers spend a lot of time…driving (shocking, we know). Driving doesn’t require too much movement, so take advantage of any chance you get to hop out of the cab and get your heart rate up. As we’ve mentioned, you have to take regular breaks, so build some workout time into each of those, even if it’s just a minute of jumping jacks or 10 pushups in a parking lot.
There are so many fitness apps out there, as well as countless free YouTube videos, that can coach you through a quick workout in your downtime. And keep in mind that there are gyms like Planet Fitness, Anytime Fitness, and 24 Hour Fitness that will likely have a location somewhere along your route if you prefer to use equipment.
Staying Healthy on the Road: Mental Health
Driving can be a lonesome task since many drivers work by themselves. Time away from home and loved ones can sometimes take a toll on people, as can changes in routine. This makes it all the more important to take care of your mental health just as much as your physical health. Thankfully, there are many different coping strategies out there. Pick the one that works best for you, or experiment with a couple of different tools!
Keep a journal
Writing can be a wonderful instrument for maintaining mental health, as it gives you the opportunity to reflect on how you’re feeling. Connecting with your feelings via pen and paper has been known to help with reducing stress, managing anxiety, and coping with depression. Journaling provides an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts or behaviors.
Stay in regular contact with friends and family
Talking regularly to loved ones can help you feel more connected to your community. Scheduling a daily call with a friend or family member is not only a great way to stay in the loop with what’s going on in their lives, but it can also give you an outlet to talk about how you’re doing. If you’d like to speak to a professional about anything on your mind, telehealth services make it easier than ever to talk to a therapist, even when you aren’t home.
Meditating doesn’t always mean you need to sit like a pretzel and chant mantras. Engaging in a mindfulness practice can simply mean spending a moment in stillness and paying attention to your breathing patterns. It can be doing silent stretches for one minute. These types of mindfulness practices are easily accessible and can be a great way to improve your mental clarity.
One way to stay healthy on the road is to work for a company that puts life first. At Pride, we maintain a family culture that prioritizes our drivers’ safety and job satisfaction and offers competitive health insurance and 401k options. If you’re curious about what it’s like to be on our team, check out our benefits.