Earlier this year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) did a study on the health of professional long-haul drivers of heavy and tractor-trailer trucks. Of the 1,670 drivers surveyed, about 60 percent were between the ages of 40 and 59, with the remaining divided pretty evenly between the age ranges of 30 to 39 and 60 to 69. Those surveyed included both company drivers and owner operators, 90 percent being from the for-hire industry. The results of the survey were alarming. Compared to the rest of the adult working population in the United States, they found that truck drivers are twice as likely to be obese. An astounding 88 percent of the surveyed drivers had at least one chronic disease risk factor such as obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. Read the entire study here.
Life on the road is tough, but it is never too late to take control of your health. Here are some tips to achieve a healthier lifestyle:
And, no, we don’t mean with soda, energy drinks, or juice. All you need is some good, old-fashioned, refreshing water! This simple adjustment will save your body from loads of empty calories and added sugar, which can actually cause you to feel more hungry and crave more sweets. Drinking water can even help you avoid over-eating. Often times, we confuse thirst cues for hunger cues. Next time you’re craving a snack, test to see if you’re actually just craving hydration by drinking a bottle of water and waiting 30 minutes to see if you still feel hungry.
There are always a million reasons and excuses NOT to do something, but let’s focus on the reasons TO do it:
-Regular physical activity helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently, thus giving you a natural energy boost!
-It triggers various chemicals in the brain that combat stress. Get in the habit of exercising each day and watch how your mood improves over time.
-It can greatly reduce or eliminate those chronic disease risk factors we discussed earlier.
The key is to get your heart rate up. There are an infinite number of ways you can do this without a gym membership or fancy equipment. If you don’t normally exercise, it is best to ease your way into a routine in order to avoid injury. Once you get going, check out this exercise routine tailored specifically to truck drivers.
Ditch the Junk Food
Fast-food restaurants and rest stops are full of convenient foods for you to grab and go, but they can really slow you down if you overdo it. Instead, try hitting a grocery store once a week to restock your cab full of healthy meals and snacks. If you have a refrigerator, fill it with yummy salad ingredients, Greek yogurt, fruits, and vegetables. Make your own healthy trail mix and portion it out into single servings that you can easily grab for a pick-me-up. If you have a freezer and a microwave, fill it with steamable vegetables of all varieties. The options are endless and much healthier than greasy fast-food!
Follow those three simple tips and you will be on the right road to a healthier life!