Take Control of Your Health as a Truck Driver
January 2, 2024
By Bob Perry, the Trucker Trainer™
It’s common knowledge that exercising is beneficial to your health and, in some cases, even lifesaving. So why isn’t everyone exercising? We know making major life changes isn’t an easy task and taking control of one’s personal health is no exception. It can be overwhelming and difficult, especially while working and living on the road. The reasons for not attempting a program or failing at one vary from person to person, but with a support system, a solid plan, and realistic goals you can get on the road to better health.
The first step is what you put in your body is 75% of the battle. While exercising is very important, making good nutritional choices is the key. Just as I say “It’s not the exercise you should do, but the one you will do”. To learn how to get the maximum performance out of your body's engine you need to know what fuels are best for you. We all have access to the most reliable and valuable lab, it’s our own body. Let’s take protein for example.
Protein is the building block of every cell in your body and should be the foundation of every meal. Protein comes in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. Chicken, turkey, lean cuts of meat, cheese, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, and cottage cheese.
A common complaint among those making lifestyle changes is they are always hungry. Eating a low-fat menu can leave you wanting more. By including lean protein with each meal, you can feel full longer. But you need to understand how much protein is enough (rule to follow; your fist is equal to a portion size) and not all proteins agree with everyone. Experiment with your body to find the right protein for you. Protein takes longer for your body to digest so it stays with you longer (much like whole grains.) It can help you stick to a low-fat diet and in turn, help you to lose weight; without losing your mind.
It’s essential to start the day with a good source of protein. We know living and working on the road and having accessibility to good choices can be challenging. If you don’t always have time in the morning to eat a good breakfast, be prepared and have your cab stocked with a few staples. Remember, if you don’t have a good choice available you will make a bad choice. Consider carrying protein bars, shakes, fruit with almonds and walnuts, or Greek yogurt with oatmeal. They are a good source of protein for on-the-go.
Now that we understand how to fuel our personal engines let’s put it to the test by starting a simple exercise program.
Despite all the scientific advances in sports training and the billions of dollars spent on exercise equipment each year, the best, most readily available form of exercise is available and it’s for free. Set a goal to walk 2,500 steps, which is approximately one mile and 100 calories. Seems simple, doesn’t it? You don’t even have to do it all at once, take small breaks throughout the day.
If you’re out of shape, you didn’t get that way overnight. Remember, start slowly, and build up over time. Exercise shouldn’t be a chore, it’s one of the best things you can do for your body.
• Increases circulation
• Relaxes tension in your neck & shoulders
• Relieves lower back pain and hip stiffness
• Eases mental fatigue and eye strain
Wear Good Shoes: You don’t run your rig on bad tires; don’t work out in worn-out shoes. Arch support, heel support, and cushioning all wear down over time. Good walking shoes help avoid injuries.
If you have a pedometer, take it for a road test. Attach it horizontally to your waistband or belt, right above your knee. If this is not comfortable, the pedometer may be worn at the side, but accuracy may be affected. Make sure to keep it horizontal. To test for accuracy, reset the counter to zero, and walk 50 steps. If the counter reads between 45-55 steps, your step counter is functioning accurately. If the reading is off by more than 10%, reposition the counter to another location on your waist and re-test.
Set Realistic Goals: Incorporate strength-training into your workout. As you build stamina, you may want to incorporate a strength-training program into your regular workout routine to help increase muscle strength and flexibility.
Drink to your health: As you increase physical activity, make sure to stay hydrated. Drinking water is one of the keys to good health, and it’s even more important when you exercise.
Bob Perry, the Trucker Trainer™ has spent the last 25 years working to bring a healthy and fit lifestyle to CDL drivers. Between his nationwide radio interviews, monthly column on TheTrucker.com and appearances at industry events, he reaches (and helps) thousands every year. Bob’s mission to educate drivers and share life-changing products and services to help professional drivers while on the road. Bob brings a unique perspective to the transportation industry – Bob is the son and brother of career drivers – both owner-operators for the last 40-years. From helping industry executives understand the many health challenges that CDL drivers face, to being a part of the solution through the development of CDL Health coaching for drivers. He has played a critical role in the paradigm shift of transportation associations, private and public sector entities, and consumers to understand the driver health challenge. Working alongside Freightliner to deliver The Fit System, in-cab-gym system, CDL Health Scanner and now FIT DRIVERS podcast to bring awareness to thousands of skilled drivers we lose every year to poor health.
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