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Truckers have to maintain their health while on the road

Truck drivers have keep their health in mind while on the job.
/ Industry News & Trends /

By: Phil Sneed

Truck drivers spend a lot of time sitting behind the wheel. Whether it's an interstate delivery or short day trips, drivers make their living transporting goods in between destinations. Add in the occasional stop for food and gas, in which a driver may stop for a quick bite to eat, and drivers may not be able to give as much attention to their health as they should.

Ultimately, truck drivers not only have a professional job to complete, but they have a personal one as well – to take care of their health. It is easy to develop an unhealthy diet while on the road. After all, if drivers are pressed for time, food that takes minutes to cook is preferred over garden vegetables and dinners that require a more personal touch. There is also all the sitting, which hinders the time a driver can spend engaging in physical activity.

Drivers can, and should, take care of their health, even though they may spend days away from home during their intermodal freight transportation journey. By developing a good diet and mixing in some exercise, all while on the road, drivers will lead a health‚Äčier lifestyle, which will benefit them later in life.

"Drivers should take care of their health."

Risks drivers face
One of the most noticeable changes truck drivers can make to their lifestyles revolves around the food they consume. Gas stations and truck stops all have one variable in common: unhealthy food packed with calories, fats and sugars. It's also statistically proven long-haul drivers face more health challenges. A study from the American Journal of Industrial Medicine interviewed 1,670 drivers across 48 states and found obesity was twice as common among long-haul drivers than other individuals, as was smoking. The study revealed 61 percent of drivers said they had at least two risk factors for poor health, such as high cholesterol, obesity and less than six hours of sleep.

Luckily, drivers who are in poor health can make changes.

Monitor food intake
According to The Healthy Trucker, fast food is unavoidable while on the road. In instances when drivers have to get something to eat, they should try to some of the healthier options. For instance, instead of getting a fried chicken sandwich, truckers should opt for the grilled option. Portion control is another good habit to develop. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals often have a higher calorie intake when they have larger portioned meals. When stopping for food, truckers should opt for smaller plates.

Likewise, liquids also heavily factor into an individual's health. Interstate travel is a long journey, and it's understandable if drivers start to feel tired. Soda is a big contributor to obesity, according to Harvard School of Public Health. A big appeal of soda is the caffeine rush that kicks in almost immediately. However, the increase in soda bottle size has had a negative effect on portion control. A 2010 study featured in the journal Diabetes Care found regular consumption of soda led to an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Coffee is another beverage drivers consume at high levels. Coffee itself is not dangerous due to its low calorie count. Instead, the danger comes from specialized drinks that have more sugar than coffee and are not healthy. In all, drivers should avoid soda, stick to regular coffee and drink lots of water. For meals, The Healthy Trucker recommended drivers also avoid fried foods.

"Regular soda consumption leads to an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes."

Exercise while driving
Diet is only half of the equation toward a healthier lifestyle. Truckers have to complete their deliveries, but they are still advised to make an occasional stop, especially for sleep. Exercise is the other half, but space can be limited. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the eight chapter Physical Activity Guideline for Americans. Adults have a few options for physical activity, but the report recommended they get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, or 75 minutes of more vigorous aerobic activity, such as running.

While it's unlikely truckers have the time or available area to workout before bed, there are some exercises that can be done while on the road and require little equipment.

Livestrong‚Äč.com, a healthy lifestyle site, suggested drivers break up physical activity throughout the day. For instance, when stopping to get more fuel, drivers can go for a brisk, 10 minute walk. Three stops per day over the course of a week will quickly add up.

Drivers may also find it appealing to carry dumbbells and other exercise equipment in their driving compartments, as long as doing so doesn't create a safety hazard. A yoga mat, for instance, can be utilized for planks, push ups, crunches and, of course, yoga. Plenty of exercises exist that require no additional equipment.

By altering diets and exercise regimens, drivers will make a conscious effort to improve their health. As a result, they'll notice the benefits, such as lowering the risk for serious illness, and feel better about themselves.