A career as an over-the-road (OTR) truck driver is not an easy endeavor. It requires both mental and physical discipline to transport freight successfully and promptly. However, all of those hours behind the wheel can add up and take a toll on your body.
A common concern for truck drivers is the risk of acquiring serious medical conditions due to their work environment. In an article published by Corporate Wellness Magazine, it’s stated that over 50% of American truck drivers are obese. It also claims that diabetes and hypertension affect the majority of commercial drivers.
Truck drivers’ health and safety are of utmost importance. Below, we’ll discuss several ways that drivers can stay on top of their wellness routine and feel their best at work.
How to Get Healthy as an OTR Truck Driver
1. Eat Healthy Food
We’ll admit that it can be a challenge for truck drivers to stay healthy, and find a nutritious meal plan that works for them. Eating nourishing foods while on the road is definitely a challenge when you’re surrounded by fast food and quick snacks at truck stops.
Especially when the options offered at truck stops and gas stations are typically fried, processed, or coated in hydrogenated oil and sugar. But not to worry, there is hope!
We recommend starting simple. Consider making a few food swaps to improve your food choices while on the road, like these:
- Flamin’ Hot Cheetos > String Cheese and Pretzels
- Little Debbie Cakes > Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Squares
- Beef Jerky > Turkey Jerky (avoid products containing harmful MSG)
- Honey Buns > Fresh fruit, especially water rich fruits like strawberries and melons
- Hot Dogs > Greek yogurt
- Doritos > Hummus and carrots
- Starbucks Frappuccino > Black coffee, in moderation
It’s recommended to eat smaller meals more frequently during your day. That way you can avoid the inevitable energy crash that follows after a heavy meal.
Additionally, after a long day of driving, we recommend completing your final meal three hours before bedtime. Eating before bed can make it hard to fall asleep– and you need all the hours of rest you can get.
2. Drink Water and Stay Hydrated
Once you have a generally healthy meal plan organized, the next step to improving your health is to ensure that you’re hydrated. Although most transportation and fleet companies expect drivers to be on the road during work hours and avoid bathroom breaks, truck drivers need to prioritize drinking water.
A study compiled by Men’s Journal shows that driving while even mildly dehydrated can increase unsafe driving occurrences like lane drifting and delayed braking. The results of driving dehydrated are comparable to driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%.
In other words? Driving dehydrated is like driving drunk. This is very concerning for a driver’s safety.
Additionally, dehydration can lead to problems like muscle cramps, fatigue, heatstroke, and even kidney stones.
So you know you need water… but what about bathroom breaks? Our team suggests drinking up to 24 ounces of water approximately 20 minutes before arriving at each major stop– including arriving at a shipping / receiving dock, beginning your 30-minute break, or at the end of your shift.
This will help to plan your shift more effectively. It will also ensure you’re staying hydrated without sacrificing any drive time. Additionally, try to consume caffeine and high-sodium foods sparingly to mitigate dehydration.
3. Wear Sunscreen
Even though drivers technically work ‘inside,’ that’s a 70-hour work week behind sunny glass windows. Most truck windows do not block ultraviolet radiation, leaving your face and arms exposed for extended periods of time.
Do your skin a favor, and apply sunscreen at the beginning of each shift.
4. Get Enough Rest
With an irregular work schedule and extended hours, it’s imperative that drivers get enough rest. It’s best to get at least seven hours of sleep.
Having trouble falling or staying asleep? Try using earplugs or noise canceling headphones. Additionally, try to reduce phone time before bed. Applying a blue light filter on your phone and putting it away 30 minutes before bed allows your eyes and mind to relax.
5. Get in a Quick Workout
Looking for a simple way to increase energy, improve your mood, and knock off a few pounds? These are all benefits of exercising. In order for truck drivers to get healthy, a key component is movement. Studies show that even 10-20 minutes of physical activity per day can improve the following:
- Improved cardiovascular fitness and increased oxygen intake
- Better control of blood sugar levels
- More focused and positive
In short, a quick workout can do you wonders. But for lasting effects, it requires consistency.
Consider carving out 10 minutes before or after work each day to move your body. Then enjoy the lasting, disease-fighting benefits. Now, that’s worth a quick sweat sesh.
You Take Care of Your Body, Let J&A Fleet Take Care of Your Truck
As a transportation company fleet manager, we recommend that you introduce a driver wellness program at your company to keep drivers healthy and increase worker productivity. Meanwhile, at J&A Fleet Maintenance, we’re passionate about supporting healthy truck drivers and keeping their trucks safe and operational on the road.
Our team offers an array of maintenance services to keep your truck running at top shape, well beyond 150,000 miles. Serving Northeastern Illinois, we’re dedicated to protecting businesses’ investments by keeping their vehicles on the road longer. If your vehicle needs any maintenance, rely on us to help get you back on the road.
Schedule a call with us today, and we’ll be happy to help you with any necessary fleet repairs.