How to Keep Healthy as a Truck Driver
Professional drivers are a unique group of employees. Not only are they required to drive for up to 10 hours per day, five days per week, but they’re also on the road for most of the year. They don’t get much time off during peak driving seasons (like summer vacation or winter holidays) and must often work extended shifts. If you’re an over-the-road truck driver, you probably already know just how challenging this career can be. Truck driving is also a job that requires peak physical and mental performance at all times. If you want to succeed as an OTR driver, it’s important that you take care of your health and wellness in every way possible. To help you succeed — and thrive — as a truck driver, we have compiled some quick tips on how to keep healthy as a truck driver.
If there’s one thing that will make all aspects of your life easier, it’s regular exercise. Exercise has been shown to positively impact your mood, energy levels, stress levels, sleep quality, and ability to focus — all of which are essential for truck drivers. If you drive full-time, you can benefit greatly from exercising three to five days per week. You might have to work out at a gym or at home, but you can get creative with this. You could lift weights while parked at the side of the road, take a yoga class at a rest area, or do interval training at a truck stop where space is available. If you have a health condition that prevents you from exercising, talk to your doctor. They may be able to advise you on what you can do. Working out has many psychological benefits for truck drivers. Exercise makes you feel good about yourself and your body. It’s also a great way to make friends and socialize. You can do it alone or in a group, so you don’t even have to be lonely.
Drinking water is important for everyone at all times — but for truck drivers, it’s an essential part of staying healthy. When you’re dehydrated, you’re more susceptible to getting sick, experiencing headaches, and feeling tired and mentally sluggish. In order to stay hydrated, you’ll need to drink a minimum of 64 ounces (two full water bottles) per day. Keep a water bottle on your dashboard, next to your seat, or in your truck’s cup holder. Ideally, you’ll want to drink water long before you start feeling thirsty — when you’re thirsty, it’s too late! Keep in mind that you should be drinking water, not soda, juice, or sports drinks. While these beverages have a lot of calories and sugar, they don’t actually hydrate your body.
Don’t forget to eat nutritious meals
No matter how healthy you think your diet is, it’s important to get a good balance of nutrients. Aim to eat at least three meals per day. Be sure to include plenty of protein and fiber, as well as healthy fats, carbs, and vegetables. Avoid drinking too much coffee and sugar-loaded energy drinks, as these aren’t as good for your health as you might think. If you’re finding it difficult to make healthy food choices while on the road, consider bringing pre-portioned snacks from home. You can also pick up bagged salads, protein bars, or other health-conscious food items when you stop at a truck stop or rest area. This habit can also help with your dental health.
Try to get enough sleep
While you can get a lot of work done while sleeping, you don’t want to skimp on sleep. Studies have shown that truck drivers who get seven to eight hours of sleep are less likely to get in accidents. If you’re getting less than that, you might be putting yourself and others at risk. Most people need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’ll be more susceptible to health issues and less able to focus on the road. Keep in mind that sleeping pills are not the same as getting enough sleep. While sleeping pills will knock you out, they may not be the best option for truck drivers.
Protect your hearing
Trucks are loud places. From the engine to the air conditioner, everything is loud. While it’s important to protect your hearing from harmful sounds, it’s also easy to accidentally cause hearing damage when you’re in an enclosed space like a truck. To protect your hearing, wear ear plugs when you’re in loud environments. You can also purchase noise-cancelling headphones to cut out some of the sound. You should have your hearing tested every five years, even if you’re not in an industry that’s particularly loud. Hearing loss can start as early as your 20s — and it’s often accompanied by tinnitus, which is constant ringing in the ears.
Truck driving is a challenging and demanding job. However, if you work to stay healthy in all areas of your life, you’ll be better equipped to handle the ups and downs of this career. Remember that it’s not just about staying healthy — it’s about being your best self. If you get into the habit of taking care of your body, you’ll find that your career will be easier, your relationships will be better, and your life will be more fulfilling.