Life on the Road: 5 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
When your job requires you to spend a large amount of time on the road, it’s easy to develop unhealthy habits and neglect your physical and mental health. The hours are often long and the rigors of the road can take their toll on your mind and body. But, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important for your long-term wellbeing and should always be a top priority in your day-to-day work.
Whether you are thinking about a career in truck driving, or are already a seasoned driver, here are five easy, practical ways that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle while living life on the road.
#1: Focus on Your Daily Nutrition
When your job requires you to drive all day, or possibly even overnight, sticking to a healthy diet can be a challenge. Odds are good you don’t have a lot of time for preparing healthy meals. And, to compound the issue, much of the food that is fast and convenient is not healthy.
While it is more difficult to maintain a healthy, balanced diet on the road, there are a few simple, practical ways you can improve your daily nutrition. Try out a few of the following and think of other ways you can improve the quality of your diet on the road:
- When possible, stock your cooler or fridge with healthy foods before you hit the road. Look for simple, fast snacks that will be easy to grab on the road, but offer health benefits. For example, pre-chopped veggies and dips or sliced fruit cups.
- When you are in a pinch and need a fast meal on the road, consider a lighter option, such as Subway. While most fast food is packed with high amounts of fat and sodium, Subway and other sandwich chains often offer lighter fare that is just as quick to grab on the go.
- Read labels. Next time you go to grab a snack from the truck stop, take a moment to quickly scan food labels. Watch out for high amounts of sugar and sodium. When possible, opt for snacks with the fewest number of ingredients possible. Almonds, cashews, and other unsalted nuts are often an easy option to find at gas stations and convenience stores.
- Make a swap! When you’re on the road, you probably need caffeine to help you stay awake. But sugary sodas can quickly lead to an overconsumption of calories. Swap out soda for unsweetened tea or black coffee instead.
#2: Take Ample Time for Rest
Sleep is critical to both your physical and mental health. In fact, according to medical research, sleep deprivation can put you at risk of lowered concentration and cognition. And, when you are responsible for driving a commercial vehicle, this can put you and others at grave risk.
Additionally, getting ample sleep is linked with lowering your risk for heart disease, obesity, and inflammation. Sleep is also critical to ensuring that you have a healthy immune system, which is a good way to avoid depression and anxiety.
While life on the road can require long hours of work, make sure you carve out ample time for rest. Getting adequate shut-eye every night can help keep you healthy even during the busiest months.
#3: Get Up and Move
One of the difficulties of life on the road is keeping yourself physically active. After spending long hours sitting in the driver’s seat, it can be hard to feel motivated to work out. Not only that, but often, your job takes you to places where you don’t have access to a gym.
While you might not always be able to fit in a full-body workout, even the simple act of getting up and moving every few hours can contribute to your health. According to research by Harvard, getting up and moving, rather than sitting uninterrupted for seven-plus hours led to a lowered risk of heart disease and overall improvements to cardiovascular health.
When possible, take a break every few hours and get up and stretch. Something as simple as a quick five-minute walk or doing 10 squats can help contribute to a healthier body and mind.
#4: Schedule Time Off
Beyond just taking a break during your daily work, it is also important to schedule time away from the road. It can be easy to keep picking up more work, especially when demand is high, to keep earning more dollars.
But, eventually, a lack of time spent away from the road can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Schedule a week off here and there when possible. Focus on spending that time with family, friends, and doing the things you love. It is amazing how much a quick vacation can rejuvenate your mind and body.
#5: Commit to Cutting Out Unhealthy Habits
Finally, make a commitment to focus on cutting out unhealthy habits. It can be easy to fall back into these habits during the stress of your work. And, while that is completely understandable, making a change for your long-term health is important.
Consider cutting out the following unhealthy habits:
- Tobacco use.
- Overconsumption of alcohol.
- Overconsumption of sugar.
- Overconsumption of fatty foods.
Quitting a habit is not easy. Consider reaching out to a fellow truck driver who is making healthier choices to support each other. Having accountability and someone to lean on when times are tough can go a long way in making it easier to choose a healthy habit instead.
Need to Schedule a DOT Physical? Search Here
Prioritizing your health as a truck driver is an important part of ensuring a long, enjoyable life. And beyond that, it is also a critical part of your job. Every two years, you need to renew your medical license by undergoing a DOT physical. During this exam, a medical practitioner will determine whether or not you are healthy enough to safely operate a commercial vehicle.
By taking care of your health now, you can contribute to your ability to pass this exam in the years to come.
If you are ready to schedule your next DOT exam, the first step is to find a nearby DOT physical provider. Finding a provider is simple. Using an online search tool, you can find a convenient location to schedule your next CDL exam, allowing you to get back on the road.