How to Lower Blood Pressure for DOT Physical

High blood pressure is a common condition that many Americans deal with. Blood pressure is the measure of the amount of blood pumped by your heart and the amount of resistance in your arteries. As you pump more blood through narrower arteries, blood pressure increases.

Considered a silent disease, as there may be no symptoms of the condition, uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to serious health problems such as heart attack and stroke. Your arteries become weakened due to the constant pressure of blood flowing through them, leading to kidney failure, damage to the blood vessels in the eyes and fluid backup in the lungs.

Blood Pressure and Your DOT Physical

Truck drivers are required to have blood pressure under 140/90. The medical examiner electronically transmits the result of your physical to the DOT. Instead of stressing over your blood pressure before a physical, it’s best to address and find ways to keep it lower, not only for your livelihood but for your overall health.

Drivers with blood pressure over 140/90 can still get certified to drive, but the certification will only be for 1 year or less depending on the level of hypertension. To keep your certification, your blood pressure will have to be below 140/90 or you will be disqualified to drive. You can lower your blood pressure with medication, through lifestyle changes or both.

Here are some short-term ways to reduce your blood pressure:

  • Drink water instead of soda, coffee and juice. Water lowers your sodium levels, which contribute to high blood pressure. Coffee is known to increase blood pressure.
  • Stop smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • Increase your intake of potassium. Bananas, oranges, carrots and leafy greens are packed with potassium.
  • Reduce your stress. Meditate. Take deep breaths.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – or DASH diet can give you some good guidelines. Reduce the amount of salt you eat. Beet juice has been shown to measurably reduce blood pressure.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation increases your risk of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.

While these steps may lower your blood pressure for DOT physical, you still have to address the long-term effects of your career. Sitting in one place for long periods of time can negatively affect your health, not only increasing your risk of high blood pressure but also diabetes and cancer. Whether or you not you are diagnosed with hypertension at your DOT physical, you have to take steps to take care of your health. You’ll be more alert, faster and more efficient.

Exercise and lose weight

Cardiovascular exercise strengthens your heart. This lowers your blood pressure because it takes less effort to pump blood when your heart is stronger. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise and 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or a combination each week. That’s 30 minutes each day, give or take a couple.

Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, your heart works harder to pump blood through the arteries. Even a modest loss of 5 to 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure.

Eat healthier

It’s not easy to eat healthy on the road unless you plan ahead. Pack your cooler with fresh meals made with lean cuts of meat and lots of vegetables. Keep fruit and fresh veggies on hand for snacking.

When you do eat fast-food or at a diner, choose grilled or baked fish and chicken over fried. Go for the salad bar and load up on spinach, carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers. Opt for a low-cal salad dressing. Skip the French fries and get broccoli or roasted potatoes.

Drink water. Making sure you are hydrated keeps your hypertension under control. It also benefits every system in your body. Watch your caffeine intake. Limit sugary drinks for your heart’s sake.

Don’t smoke

When you smoke, it temporarily raises your blood pressure putting stress on your cardiovascular system. Premature deaths caused by smoking are the most preventable death in the United States. It only takes seven days for nicotine to leave your system when you stop smoking. You can deal with the physical aspect of quitting. To deal with the psychological triggers, such as boredom or smoking after dinner, you will need to make a plan to replace smoking with something else. You can do it.

Get enough sleep

Regular, deep sleep plays a part in lowering your blood pressure. Eating healthier and exercise are conducive to sleep, but if you’re struggling with sleep, try blocking out light and sound or investing in a better mattress. Use your downtime to take care of yourself. You deserve it.

Limit your alcohol intake

Even though you may not have many opportunities to drink because of your job, when you’re off-the-clock, you shouldn’t binge on alcohol. One drinking session can increase your blood pressure temporarily, putting unnecessary stress on your heart. Repeated binge drinking is a precursor to hypertension.

Stop Smoking and Drive Healthier: 5 Resources for Quitting on the Road

Odds are, you’re a smoker. Most truckers are, just about 51%. As you well know, smoking is terrible for your health and quitting is hard. Make a healthier choice for yourself and quit smoking. These resources can help.

There is no one guaranteed solution for quitting smoking. Find resources that look like they will help you and try them. If it isn’t working, try something else. Stick to your goal and don’t give up. Quitting is possible and you can do it. Make the decision to quit today and then find a plan to make it happen.

1-800-QUIT-NOW

All states have a dedicated quitline to help smokers as they decide to quit. Services available and hours will vary by state. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to get in touch with your state’s quitline. Another available option is 877-44U-QUIT, available Mon-Fri from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time.

Freedom from Smoking Online

Support groups are an excellent resource as you quit an addictive habit, but many drivers, especially long haul and over the road truckers, may have a hard time hitting a weekly meeting due to their varied schedule and time on the road. Freedom from Smoking Online is an adaptation of the American Lung Association’s highly successful group program. It can be done on your own time, from anywhere with an internet connection. There is a small fee to register for the program, but with all the money you’ll save when you no longer buy cigarettes, this program is very affordable and is an excellent option for those wanting a group style program without the weekly, in-person meetings.

Smokefree TXT

Are you running low on data? Do you want support without having to use the internet? Smokefree TXT provides 24/7 support and encouragement for those that are trying to quit. Each day you’ll receive approximately five encouraging text messages, helping you to stay on track. To sign up visit https://smokefree.gov/tools-tips/smokefreetxt

Quit Day

QuitDay.org hopes to add 10 healthy years to your life by helping you to ditch the cigarettes. Their website will help you understand why you smoke and will help you identify common setbacks met during the quitting process. They have a page specially dedicated to helping truck drivers quit smoking.

Apps for Quitting

Are you an app lover? Use one of these free apps to help you quit (links are to Android apps, but Apple versions are available too):

Tips for Success

Quitting smoking can be especially difficult for truck drivers. You spend hours alone driving, time that you probably filled with cigarettes. These tips may be helpful.

  • Try Sunflower Seeds and Gum– Many truckers find it helpful to stock up on sunflower seeds and gum for those long, boring stretches where you’re used to smoking. Make sure you have something to do as you drive so you can break the smoking habit with a healthier option.
  • Talk with Your Doctor– Your doctor may be able to prescribe treatments to reduce your urge to smoke. Ask them about your options.
  • Get a Buddy– Everything is more fun when you do it with a friend. A quit buddy may make it easier to stop smoking. This resource guide from the University of Alabama will help you enlist a family member, friend, or fellow trucker for help on your quitting journey.
  • Do it for You– Quitting is hard and the only way to be successful is to want it. Why do you want to quit? Remind yourself of the reasons that you’re quitting every time the going gets hard.

Live longer and feel better. You might drive a truck, but that doesn’t mean you have to smoke like a trucker. Quit smoking today!

Eating Right- Essentials of Health and Wellness for Truck Drivers

When you live your life on the road, eating right can seem impossible. Who has time or the tools needed to cook healthy foods? Eating right is a bit more challenging than driving through your favorite fast food restaurant, but it isn’t impossible (or even that hard) when you get in the habit, even for truck drivers. And since diet has big implications for your health, a few changes are worth it. Here’s what every trucker needs to know about eating right.

Why Is Eating Right Important?

They say, “You are what you eat,” and when it comes to your health, this is certainly true. Many diseases are diet related including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and some cancers. Seeing that truckers are already at an increased risk for many of these problems, a good diet is essential.

What Can You Do?

Changing the way you eat is challenging. You’ll be more likely to achieve success if you take small steps. Don’t get discouraged if your diet isn’t perfect from the start. Add in one or two positives to your diet at a time and keep working until you’re where you want to be. Take the first step toward your diet transformation today. Here are some ideas for incorporating healthier foods into your diet on the road.

  • Stock Up on Fruits and Vegetables– What’s your favorite snack on the road? If you love chips or candy, consider making the switch to fruits and vegetables. Pre-sliced apples, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, etc. are easy to eat on the go and can be purchased prepared and ready to eat. If you don’t want to hassle with refrigeration or a cooler and want foods that will last for months, opt for dried fruits like raisins, banana chips, or dried apples.
  • Go Nuts!- To satisfy your salty cravings with a healthier choice, opt for nuts and seeds. Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and pistachios are all healthy and delicious options. Remember, heavily salted nuts aren’t the best choice if you want to keep your sodium levels where they should be. Opt for lower salt options.
  • Make it Yourself- You might not have access to a full service kitchen in your truck, but there are many things you can make yourself to skip the drive through and eat healthy. Canned tuna and chicken can be used to make tuna or chicken salad. Pair with crackers and veggies for an easy lunch or make a sandwich. For breakfast, make some oatmeal, eat yogurt, enjoy a hardboiled egg, or choose a healthy cereal option (granola is a great choice). When you make food yourself you can control what goes in and you save money too. Eating right doesn’t have to be expensive.
  • Skip Soda– Diet or regular, soda isn’t a healthy choice. To prepare yourself for healthier eating on the road, have plenty of water on hand. Choose water instead of soda. At first you may need to cut back gradually, especially if you’re hooked on caffeine, but this one change can make a big difference in how you feel.

When You Do Eat Out

Eating out is inevitable as a truck driver, but there are things you can do to eat healthier at restaurants. Try these tips. (For more ideas, see this great slideshow from WebMD.)

  • Plan Ahead- A little research before you head to a restaurant can give you good ideas for which foods to choose. This slideshow from the Food Network gives healthy suggestions for many popular chains (including some fast food options). If you don’t plan ahead, ask which options are heart healthy, lower fat, etc.
  • Avoid Fried Foods– Skip the fried foods and opt for boiled, broiled, and grilled instead.
  • Choose Healthy Proteins– You can find healthy protein options at almost every restaurant. Limit your red meats and opt for leaner chicken instead. Fish is a great choice when you can find it. Seafood is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and can lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Don’t Forget the Veggies– If you’re eating out, find a way to include a vegetable (or better yet, two) with every meal.

Tips for Success

You can do it. You can eat healthier on the road. It will be hard, but once you start seeing the positive health benefits, you’ll know your efforts are paying off. These final tips will help you achieve success.

  • Try and Try Again– Don’t worry about your slip ups as you work toward eating healthier. Try your best and then try again.
  • Small Changes Matter– If you’re not ready for a perfect diet, make small changes. Switching soda for water a couple of meals a day is better than doing nothing. Adding in an extra vegetable will have positive benefits, even if you change nothing else. Small changes can make a difference in your health.
  • Prepare– Healthy eating requires a little preparation. The time to decide to eat right is now, not when you’re starving and needing a snack. Stock your truck with easy to eat, healthy options now so they are there when you need them. If you want to eat better tomorrow… buy the right foods today.

Life on the road does make it difficult to eat right, but you can do it. What changes will you make to your diet for a healthier tomorrow?