Why should truck drivers exercise more and eat better?

Truck drivers can minimize common health problems by improving their diet and getting more exercise. Likely rewards? Better mood, more energy, longer life. 

Photo of truck driver eating loaded sub sandwich in front of truck.

Photo credit: iStock.com/shotbydave

Truck drivers have a tough job. They work long hours, are exposed to excessive noise, vibration, and prolonged sitting, and often have poor diets and don’t get enough exercise. The result? Increased rates of stroke, diabetes, sleep problems, and other health concerns. See this study from the Institute for Work & Health, for example.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

That’s what Diana Steele told the crowd at the APNA Truck Show on June 10, 2017, in Abbotsford. Diana is a Vancouver dietician and her talk Making the healthy choice was part of a speakers series hosted by SafetyDriven (Trucking Safety Council of BC).

Taking little steps (literally) towards change

Improved diet and more exercise helps truckers avoid heart disease, diabetes, and other health conditions they are too-often prone to.

Even a short walk – for only 15 minutes a day – can make a difference, says Diana in Eating on the Road – Nutrition for Truck Drivers (downloadable as a Word document from the SafetyDriven website).

Included are these tips for being more active:

  • Use a pedometer for motivation.
  • Get up and stretch every few hours to take pressure off your back.
  • Stop at the service plaza to stretch.
  • Walk around the picnic area, do high knees on the spot, drop and do 10 push-ups.
  • Go to the gym or walk while your truck is being unloaded.

Eating well leads to health benefits

Diana also offers tips for eating well, including good reasons for changing habits. Better mood, more energy, and longer life are among them.

Here are a few of Diana’s tips for healthier eating:

  • Eating every three hours is essential to maintaining stable blood sugar levels.
  • Keep a water bottle in the cab, and stock Perrier or soda water for something bubbly.
  • Cover half your plate with vegetables at the truck stop salad bar.

Choosing meal prep over fast food

Jimmy Sandhu knows about the challenges faced by truckers looking for a good meal. Today he’s an Occupational Health and Safety Advisor at SafetyDriven, but in the past he drove trucks.

Jimmy says fast food outlets were always an easy option: “A burger does taste pretty good but eventually, you get to a point where you’ve had enough of burgers. You want to go to the grocery store and see what options you have. With a little bit of time and effort, I could prepare a meal for each day of the week.”

He says the size of the vehicles and their equipment restricts where drivers can stop for meals. In most cases, large trucks don’t have the option of parking in a restaurant parking lot. This means they often park on the street and risk their safety crossing a busy road.

But things are changing. Says Jimmy: “More and more people are getting on board with the idea of prepping their own meals. Drivers can now easily look online to find recipes and meal prep ideas for the work week.”

For more helpful suggestions, see Diana’s Nutrition Tips for Long Distance Truck Drivers on Global News or go to her company website, Eating For Energy.

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