Finding the right truck driver exercise tips may be the difference between life and death. In fact, the most recent survey on truck driver health risks and obesity rates was conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 2014, and the results weren’t especially positive. Approximately 70% of truck drivers were classified as obese and almost 17% were classified as being morbidly obese, or weighing more than 100 pounds over their ideal body weight. Although these numbers aren’t encouraging, there’s a lot that truck drivers can do on the road to counteract the health risks associated with long-haul trucking. This article is about truck driver exercise, and it covers 5 tips that help drivers stay active on long hauls.
What Causes Truck Driver Obesity?
Before we jump into the tips, knowing the root of truck driver obesity helps us frame the issue better. The three main causes of truck driver obesity that we’ll discuss are:
- Lack of physical activity
- Poor diet
- Irregular sleep schedule
Lack of physical activity is at the top of our list because it’s the main reason truck driver obesity is so prevalent. Over-the-road truck drivers, or OTR drivers for short, put a lot of miles on the odometer during their workday. In fact, truckers are allowed to drive for a total of 11 hours within a 14 hour period. That means a lot of time sitting down, and a lot of time with minimal physical activity as well. On top of that, truck drivers don’t have the option of standing up and stretching throughout the day.
Poor diet is another leading cause of truck driver obesity. Fast food, snacks, and fatty foods at rest stops are the main culprits. Many truckers prefer these options because they’re quick, cheap, and allow them to get back on the road as soon as possible.
Lastly, and most surprisingly, an irregular sleep schedule is another cause of truck driver obesity. According to the Shahrad Taheri at the University of Bristol, sleep deprivation alters the hormones associated with hunger and appetite. When you’re sleep deprived, your body produces less leptin, the hormone the suppresses appetite, and produces more ghrelin, a hormone that causes hunger.
Additionally, sleep deprivation and irregular sleep habits can cause us to crave foods with more sugar or fat, according to the University of Berkeley.
Now, when we put these three causes together, it comes as no surprise that truck drivers are more susceptible to them than the average working American. It’s no secret that truck drivers make the most money when they’re on the move, and, considering that non-stop lifestyle, many truck drivers have problems with weight and other aspects of their health.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way—truck driver exercise is simpler than you think. Staying healthy is possible in any industry, and transportation is no different.
Top 5 Truck Driver Exercise Tips
These are five truck driver exercise tips that anyone can do on the clock and on break, no matter where they find themselves throughout the day.
- Stay active inside and outside of the truck. During breaks at rest stops, truck stops, company facilities, and any other stopovers, a good 15 to 30 minutes of simple calisthenics can go a long way. These exercises could include pushups, sit ups, planks, crunches, jumping jacks, or anything else to keep the blood flowing. To top it off, bringing some light exercise equipment and athletic clothing with you on the road can help you take those short sessions even further. Some truck stops even have gyms, so don’t forget to take advantage of those when you come across them. Additionally, there are a few exercises you can do while driving. Squeezing your abs for the length of a song or for 5 miles is a great way to do sitting crunches, and doing shoulder shrugs by bringing your shoulders up to your ears is a great way to release the tension in the upper back.
- Make sure you eat right. Just because driving trucks can feel like a long road trip doesn’t mean it is. Don’t reach for the classic road trip snacks like candy, soda, chips, and the like. If your cab is stocked with healthy choices, then that’s what you’re going to eat while driving. Unsalted nuts, water, granola, fruits, and other fiber and vitamin rich foods will do you a world of good. Investing in a minifridge or high-quality ice box is a good idea if you want to keep perishable fruits and veggies on board during long hauls. Part of eating right is eating three square and balanced meals a day. Remember, your body needs fuel to operate properly, and, on top of that, skipping a meal one day will cause you to binge eat the next. By eating three meals a day, you keep your hunger in check and develop healthy habits that prevent you from overeating.
- Obey the rules of the road: stop and rest. Earlier, we mentioned the FMCSA regulations that mandate 30 minute breaks after 8 hours of driving and 10 hour breaks after 11 hours of driving. Taking full advantage of those breaks and making good use of them means giving your body the rest it needs.
Bending those rules and driving longer than permitted could alter your sleep schedule, and, as we touched on earlier, sleep deprivation can lead to health complications such as obesity.
- It can be tough to maintain new habits. That’s why we recommend that you keep a nutrition log. Keeping a log of the food you eat and the exercise you do throughout the day ensures you stay on track, and it makes it easier to spot deviations from your nutrition plan.
- Many carriers offer their drivers great health insurance benefits—use them. When it’s time to go home, make sure you schedule routine checkups with the doctor. This helps you stay on top of your health, and your doctor can give you some additional advice that’s tailored to your lifestyle.
Truck Driver Exercise: Learn More About Truck Driving With TDI
As you can see, maintaining a healthy lifestyle even though you’re sitting for most of the day isn’t difficult. And remember, if you keep at it after a few weeks you’d be surprised at how quickly it becomes second nature.
Truck Driver Institute is one of the country’s best truck driving schools, and staying healthy on the road is just one aspect of the job. If you’re interested in getting a CDL yourself, don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more about our 3 week program.