Being on the road for a long period of time can get you in a routine of constant sitting and eating whatever is fast and handy. Both of those can be very detrimental to your health and wellbeing. Taking care of your body and mind can be just as important as taking care of your truck. If you are not taking care of yourself, it can create problems that prohibit you from doing your job to the best of your ability. Here are some tips to stay healthy on the road:
While it may be easiest to grab something from the closest fast food joint or junk section from the rest stop, it is not a practical long-term substitute for a diet. It is important to get all of the nutrients you need to function at a full cognitive level. It will also give you the energy you need so that you can stay alert on the road. Most gas stations and rest stops and taking extra effort to provide plenty of healthy options, but it would be just as easy to pack your own snacks before you set off. Some healthy, on-the-go snack options could be:
- Mixed nuts
- String cheese
- Veggies and hummus
- Crackers and cheese
- Fruit and veggies
- Larabars–or similar energy bars made with fruit
- Jerky–without all the additives and preservatives
- Organic fruit snacks and dried fruit
- Chocolate covered nuts and fruit
Limiting your caffeine and sugary drinks intake is vital. Driving for a long period of time can make you want to grab a coffee, soda, or energy drink for an extra jolt, but these drinks are loaded with extra calories and will dehydrate you. Staying hydrated with water is another key factor in staying healthy while on the road. It is easy to forget to keep drinking water when moderately stationary because the less active you are, the less you start to crave the water, meaning you are more likely to get dehydrated on a road trip. Drinking water helps boost brain power and regulate your digestive system, which will help your health even more.
A good, well-balanced diet goes a long way, but exercise is the only way to really get your heart rate going to burn some fat. The discomfort that comes from sitting for a long period of time can become a lasting issue on your back, neck, and legs. There are plenty of exercises out there that can loosen the bunched up muscles and help. Exercise is also a good way to wake up the foggy brain during a long drive or detention time. Studies show that adults need to try and get 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. A perfect time to get this would be during your off time. Some easy ways to get exercise in without going to the gym would be to park in the last row at the truck stop so you have farther to walk, taking a brisk walk or jog around the rest stop, doing some bodyweight lunges and squats, or even doing some yoga moves. When you are not on the road, it is important to continue your workout routine with a brisk walk around your neighborhood or local park and at-home workouts. The more often you exercise, the more likely it is to become a part of your daily life and you will start to see beneficial results.
Another way to stave off the mental fog and keep your brain sharp is to exercise it with brain puzzles such as Sudoku or crossword puzzles. These can be found at any truck stop or store where they sell books and magazines. Listening to music or podcasts can help keep you mentally stimulated while on the road. The act of thinking about the lyrics and actually singing can keep you engaged. So, rock out to your favorite song.
Trucking can be a very lonely business, especially being away from your family/support system for a long time, so if you find yourself getting depressed, be sure to reach out for help if you need it.
A Note on Drugs and Alcohol
Tobacco usage is a huge health problem as it can lead to cancer and copious amounts of other health problems. Talk to your doctor about how you can safely and successfully quit. There should never be alcohol or other drugs involved while on the road, but even on your own time, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver and kidney problems and addiction issues.
All of these tips should be followed up with a consult from your doctor, but are just a way to get started taking better yourself on and off the road.