Physical health is important for everyone to maintain. After all, obesity is the second leading cause of cancer after smoking. But staying fit and eating healthy isn’t always easy, especially for those who work sedentary jobs.
Take truck drivers, for example. You sit in a cab most of the day, unable to move. Days can be long, and when you reach somewhere, your first instinct is to rest, not exercise. Between sleeping and driving, most drivers go the entire day with almost no movement. To make things worse, the food that’s easiest to access usually isn’t the healthiest.
All of this has had a serious impact on the industry. A study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that 69% of truck drivers are obese, with 17% being morbidly obese. Additionally, research from Gallup-Healthways showed that transportation workers have the highest risk of chronic health problems out of any occupational group.
We’re not here to make anyone feel guilty or negative. Rather, we want to pull attention to a very real concern, and offer some simple steps truck drivers can take to change their own situation.
It Starts with What You Eat (and How Much You Eat)
When it comes to losing weight and getting healthier, your diet is actually much more important than exercise. That doesn’t mean you should ignore exercise. It simply means if you’re looking to stay healthy, you should first look at what you’re eating.
Your food options can be a little limited on the road, but eating healthier is not impossible. Keep some fruit or nuts in your truck for when you need something to munch on. Bananas and apples are easy to eat while driving, and they don’t require refrigeration. Instead of peanuts (which aren’t actually nuts), try almonds or cashews.
Beef jerky is a little high in sodium, but it’s a lean source of protein.
As for full-meals, try to choose the healthiest option available, whether it’s a salad or a cold-cut turkey sandwich. Skip the greasy chips or fries, and choose a vegetable instead. If you want to cheat a little, pretzels aren’t a bad compromise.
For mornings, try drinking a protein shake instead of a greasy breakfast sandwich. Portion size also makes a huge difference. Even if you don’t change what you eat that much, simply eating less of it can bring positive results.
It’ll take some adjustment, but once you get in the habit, it’ll feel like second nature.
Drink Less Soda and More Water
Replacing a massive fountain drink or a liter of cola with a bottle of water will have a big impact on how you look and feel. Drinking an excess of sugary, caffeinated beverages is bad for your heart, your teeth, your liver, your kidneys, your weight, and more.
It also greatly increases your chances of diabetes.
Many people have found flavored carbonated water to be an acceptable substitute for their soda cravings.
If you’re a smoker, you’ve probably already heart everything there is to hear about the negatives of smoking. We won’t repeat all the details here. But if you’re serious about keeping your health in order, smoking has to go. Same with chewing tobacco.
Keep Equipment in Your Truck
Some truck-stops and rest areas are starting to add some exercise options for drivers. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s a start. In the meantime, keep some simple, cheap equipment in the back of your cab. This could be two or three free weights, some resistance bands, a weighted vest, a stretching mat, etc.
There are also exercise apps you can download for free that come pre-loaded with home-based routines you can do on the go. There are even apps like the Iron Trucker Fitness app that are designed specifically for truckers on the road.
Just 15 minutes of exercise a day can have a massive impact on your overall fitness. This should be more than simply walking around. Ideally, you want to keep at 75-80% of your max heartrate the entire time. To determine your max heart rate, simply subtract your age from 220.
If you’re just starting out with exercise, you may want to aim for 50-70%,
From there, you can build up both intensity and duration. For your days off, try starting the morning with a longer exercise routine that you may not be able to do while on the road. Then you have the rest of the day to do whatever you want.
Don’t Be Embarrassed
One of the major obstacles that keeps people from going to the gym can also prevent truck drivers from exercising in and around their cab: pride.
The idea of jogging around a parking lot or standing next to your rig, doing curls may seem embarrassing. People might look at you a little funny. But if you’re serious about getting healthy, you can’t let that stop you. Your personal well-being is much more important than what other people may think.
The truth is, anyone who rolls their eyes at a person who is excising probably knows they should be doing the same thing.
Looking for a Change in Trucking Companies?
Are you looking to be more active on the job, but find yourself unmotivated due to being frustrated with work? It might be time to change companies. Woodruff Enterprises has openings available across the Midwest including truck driving jobs in Chicago.
The health and well-being of our operators is a top priority, which is why we offer quality at-home time, paid vacation, and much more. Click here to learn more about basic requirements and current opportunities.