7 ways to stay healthy while on the road
It isn’t easy for truck drivers to take good care of their health while on the road. A 12-year study into the health and wellbeing of Australia’s truck drivers revealed it to be one of the most dangerous occupations in the country. And not just due to the risk of crashes.
Long hours, shift work patterns, social isolation, lack of physical movement and poor nutrition are amongst the most common physical and psychological stresses impacting truckies.
Thankfully, there are some simple ways to stay healthy while on the road. Here are our top seven tips.
- Prioritise sleep
To maintain good health and minimise the risk of injury, truck drivers need to get at least seven hours of sleep in a dark and quiet place. Easier said than done some times, but an eye mask and earplugs could help when used with our next six tips.
- Start the day with a healthy breakfast.
Breakfast is an opportunity to kick start your metabolism and set your body up for the day. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast tend to have better diets, so it’s a good habit to make part of your daily routine.
Take the time to have a healthy meal that’s low in sugar, but high in protein and fibre. Perfect examples are:
porridge topped with fruit and nuts;
fresh fruit and yoghurt with muesli;
low-sugar protein bars;
eggs and wholemeal toast;
smoothies made with fruit, vegetables (such as baby spinach) oats, protein powder or nut butter.
- Choose nutritious snacks
Eating heavy meals can leave you feeling sluggish and tired, as your body works hard digesting them.
To stay alert and keep your metabolism revved, snack on healthy foods throughout the day. You’ll also avoid overeating at mealtimes because you’ll never get ravenous.
Healthy snack ideas include:
raw nuts (salted nuts are high in sodium);
hummus and vegetable sticks;
low-sugar or greek yoghurt;
a thermos of soup (ideally one with plenty of vegetables).
- Take breaks and move your body
Whenever necessary and safe to do so, take short breaks. Use them as an opportunity to stretch your legs, have a snack and move your body.
To get your circulation moving, try touching your toes, rolling your back and neck, stretching out your arms, shaking your limbs or even doing some star jumps.
The movement will energise you, burn calories, reduce the build-up of toxins in your body
and contribute to better sleep.
- Stay hydrated
Our bodies are 60% water, and that water plays an essential role in flushing out toxins, cushioning joints, carrying nutrients and assisting digestion. Without adequate water, we can’t function to the best of our best abilities.
To avoid dehydration, keep a large bottle of water by your side while driving. Sip on in throughout the day, instead of drinking only when thirsty. By the time your body craves water, you are already dehydrated.
As a general guide, aim to drink two litres of water a day.
- Avoid stimulants
Energy drinks and coffee will dehydrate you, impact your sleep and take their toll on your overall health. They’re also a dangerous substitute for rest.
If possible, avoid drinking them entirely, or at the very least, minimise your consumption.
- Try to maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight while driving trucks is tough. There aren’t the same opportunities for healthy eating and physical movement that other occupations enjoy.
Information is power, so talk to your GP to understand what your ideal body weight should be, then make a plan to lose or maintain your weight.
By packing food from home, instead of relying on fast food, it will be easier to maintain or achieve your weight goals. Also ensure you get plenty of vegetables each day, and two pieces of fresh fruit. A brisk walk at the end of your day will also contribute to weight loss, metabolic health and better sleep.