Millions of people around the world use the start of the new year to make resolutions, most of which involve health and happiness. Life as a truck driver can take a toll on your mind and body, since you spend a large portion of your time sitting down and away from home. That’s why it’s especially important to practice preventative measures each day to keep yourself happy and healthy, and ensure you continue to pass DOT physicals.
If you’re one of those millions looking for ways to be healthier, we’ve compiled a list of easy things you can do to start.
- Start Small
Perhaps the most important takeaway from this list is to take small steps. Overhauling your entire routine is not realistic or sustainable, so even choosing two or three things from this list to start with can make a huge impact over time. Choose things that seems easily attainable for you, and as you begin forming long-term healthy habits, add onto your efforts with additional goals.
- Use Sunscreen
Long-term exposure to the sun can be detrimental to your skin; being in a truck does not shield you from the UV rays entering through your windows. Applying sunscreen each day, even just to your face and hands, can help protect you from developing skin cancer and other dermatological conditions caused by long-term sun exposure.
- Stay Hydrated
The recommended water intake is 64 ounces, or one gallon, per day. You can increase your water intake by keeping gallons or bottled water handy in your truck or refilling a reusable bottle when you stop for fuel. Avoid drinking too much coffee, soda or energy drinks because they reduce your hydration levels and can also interfere with sleep schedules. Replacing sugary drinks with water (even naturally flavored or sparkling) will boost your hydration.
- Practice Good Hygiene
While it may seem obvious, poor hygiene can actually lead to systemic health problems. Prioritizing cleanliness while working is essential to avoiding catching illnesses and experiencing issues like gum disease, rashes and other infections. Always be sure to wash your hands after using frequently used items like fuel pumps, restrooms, etc., brush your teeth twice a day, dispose of trash properly and shower frequently. Also be sure to pack a first aid kit in case of emergency!
- Make Healthy Food Choices
Being on the road makes finding healthier food choices difficult, especially in more remote areas of the country that don’t have convenient food options. There are a few ways to make nutritious food decisions while on the road:
- Pre-pack as many snacks and meals as possible to keep from impulsively buying fast food. Items like fruits, vegetables, cheese sticks, pretzels, nuts, etc. are great options for on-the-go.
- Supplement your food intake with daily multi-vitamins.
- When ordering from a restaurant, choose options like salads, lean meats, etc. when possible.
- Make small, healthier substitutions like vegetables instead of fries, leaving off cheese, etc.
NOTE: Be sure to consult your doctor for specific nutrition and dietary advice prior to making substantial changes.
- Get Good Rest
Allowing your body to rest properly is crucial to maintaining overall health. If you’re having trouble sleeping while on the road, try things like ear plugs, eye masks and noise machines to help you drown out your surroundings. You can also find ways to destress before sleeping, like reading, meditating or stretching, which will help calm your mind and body to allow for a better night’s sleep.
- Exercise Your Body
Moving your body is an excellent way to stay healthy. Getting adequate movement doesn’t have to involve large-scale workouts; just taking short walks or doing small cardio activities when you stop can make a huge difference. There are a lot of great fitness apps and YouTube videos available for free that can help you get started with small movement exercises at whatever level you’re comfortable with. You can also stock your truck with portable workout equipment like resistance bands, small hand weights, a yoga mat, etc.
- Exercise Your Brain
Working your brain is just as important as working your body! Stimulating your brain each day can help you stay sharp and aware, especially when done regularly over time. While on the road, you can keep your brain working by listening to educational and engaging content like podcasts or audiobooks. You can also do logic puzzles, trivia, etc. while on your breaks to squeeze in mental workouts.
- Monitor Your Posture
Posture is something that is often overlooked but becomes a serious issue for many truck drivers. Being hunched over the wheel in a seated position for long hours during the day can take a huge toll on your health over time. While driving, be sure to keep your seat high and your elbows tucked to keep your back in a neutral, upright position as much as possible. Investing in lumbar and tailbone support cushions can help you take care of your neck, back and hips while on the road. You can also find posture monitoring devices and braces if you notice your posture worsening or causing severe pain. Always speak with your doctor to find the best methods for you.
- Avoid Unnecessary Stress
Last but not least, avoiding unnecessary stress is a great way to stay healthy and happy. One of the best ways to do this is to plan ahead and be prepared as much as possible.
- Practice preventative maintenance and keep your truck stocked with items you may need
- Avoid financial strain and potential fraudulent situations
- Plan your routes and fuel stops ahead of time, and have physical maps on hand in case you lose signal
- Drive safely and defensively to avoid accidents, claims and load damage
- Check load cargo details prior to booking a load to make sure your insurance covers that cargo item
- Verify a broker’s credit history prior to booking loads to ensure they will pay you on time
By taking preventative measures to avoid stress, you will save yourself time, money and resources each time you’re on the road.