More Than Just Posture – 3 Tips for Better Driver Ergonomics

More Than Just Posture - 3 Tips for Better Driver Ergonomics
Did you know that proper ergonomics is just as important of an aspect of truck driver health and safety as it is for those who work in offices? Each year, thousands of drivers are plagued by neck, back, and spinal issues associated with poor posture. Truck drivers are among the
top professions to be out of work due to injuries, and ergonomic injuries are wholly avoidable by making only a few small changes

Most people don’t consider it, but the simplest way truckers can help prevent these types of ailments is by taking the same proactive steps designed for improved posture that are recommended for desk dwellers. Here are three vital ergonomic ideas to consider.

#1: Make Seat Adjustments

Similar to choosing the right type of desk chair, one of the easiest ways to ensure your cab is as safe as possible is to pay attention to seat adjustments before you even start the engine. Begin by making sure your feet can comfortably reach the gas pedal, clutch, and brake. Then adjust the seat’s backrest so that your arms are at a slight angle while you are holding the steering wheel. You’ll also want to raise the seat as high as you can while still being comfortable and tilt the seat cushion so that your thighs are fully supported without putting too much pressure on your knees.

#2: Remember Your Posture

Another vital thing to remember is your overall posture inside the truck. No matter how fatigued you become, don’t ever slouch while driving which can cause strain on your muscles and joints. This may take a bit of practice at first, but remembering to sit up straight can help prevent neck and back pain. It is also important to change your position in the seat slightly every half hour. While it isn’t always possible, try to take breaks when you can to get out of the vehicle and stretch.

#3: Maintain Good Habits When Outside the Truck

Keeping up with good health habits when you are off the road is also important. Exercises such as yoga or Pilates are excellent for strengthening your core area, which can help support your neck, back, and spine more efficiently when you are driving. And remember to correct your posture while sitting in a chair in your living room, hotel, or even at restaurants. Practice really does make perfect.

While truck drivers don’t spend their days in an office per se, a healthy and safe working environment is just as important. Protect your body by implementing the above ergonomic tips as soon as possible.

However, in addition to having these best practices in place, all truck drivers, whether they are full-time employees or independent contractors, should have truck insurance that provides coverage for injuries incurred on the job, whether it is Workers’ Compensation for full-time employees or Occupational Accident for independent contractors and owner-operators.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is much more than a commercial truck insurance agency. Since 1954, we have provided our clients with unparalleled service for truck insurance quotes, customer service, coverage charges, insurance certificates, and more. We are committed to providing our clients with the service to keep their costs to the minimum and their opportunities to the maximum. For more information about our products and services, give us a call at (800) 937-8785 to speak with one of our experts.

How Truck Drivers Can Stay Safe in the Summer Heat

How Truck Drivers Can Stay Safe in the Summer Heat
Now that the sweltering months of summer have arrived, many truck drivers find themselves facing some unique safety challenges behind-the-wheel. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips all truck drivers can follow to keep themselves and other motorists safer this summer.

Save Yourself From Sunburn

Exposure to UVA and UVB rays is a risk for truck drivers year-round, but this is especially true during the summer months, when truck drivers are less likely to be wearing protective layers that would otherwise limit their exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. While driving during daylight hours, make sure you apply (and re-apply) a quality sunscreen at least every few hours. Wearing sunglasses and/or a hat with a brim while driving can also protect your eyes from sun damage while allowing you to avoid dangerous glare and other obstructions.

Keep Your Truck Maintained

When was the last time you had the tire pressure checked on your truck? If it’s been more than a week or two, be sure to have this done; this is an important maintenance task year-round, but especially during the hotter months of summer, when truck tires are more susceptible to blow-outs. The same goes for checking and servicing your brakes, as hotter temperatures can make it easier for your brakes to overheat and create a major safety hazard while driving.

Load Up on Hydrating Fluids

Drinking plenty of water while behind the wheel is one of the best decisions you can make to avoid dehydration and the side effects (such as fatigue) that can come along with it. While it may be tempting to choose an iced coffee, soda, or other caffeinated beverage over plain water, it’s important to stay well hydrated during the sweltering months of summer. To make sure you’re drinking enough water, consider investing in a quality insulated water bottle that you make an effort to fill up at least a few times a day during your travels.

Be Alert on Crowded Roadways

Highways and roadways tend to be more crowded during the summer months, especially as children are out of school and families are taking more vacations and road trips. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to stay alert on the road, especially during times of heavy traffic. Above all else, try to maintain your patience and remember your safety training when navigating busy roads.

Summer time can be a more dangerous time for truck drivers—and for a number of reasons. By following these practical safety tips and making sure you’re protected by the right commercial truck insurance, however, you can keep yourself and other motorists safe. Reach out to the Western Truck insurance team today for more information.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is much more than a commercial truck insurance agency. With roots dating back to 1954, we have provided our clients with unparalleled service for truck insurance quotes, customer service, coverage charges, insurance certificates, and more. We are committed to providing our clients with the service to keep their costs to the minimum and their opportunities to the maximum. For more information about our products and services, give us a call at (800) 937-8785 to speak with one of our experts.

Cook in a Semi Truck – Great Tips to Eat Smart While on the Road

Want to cook in a semi truck? If you’re tired of greasy burgers, so-so tacos, fried chicken and all you can eat buffets, you’re not alone. A trucker’s diet can be hard on the body and morale. In fact, some truckers are so fed up with eating unhealthy and flavorless meals they devise ways truckers can cook home-style meals on the road.

If you’re tired of spending your hard-earned money on gas station food and fast food joints, change your ways and start cooking on the road. With a little bit of planning and the right truck driver cooking equipment, you can start cooking on the road in no time.

Invest in the Right Equipment

If your truck isn’t already equipped with a mini fridge, stove, microwave, coffee pot and crock pot, chances are you’re new to the industry. Take a look at any trucker’s rig and you’ll discover that the back of their cab resembles a mini studio. A 12-V cooler can keep your drinks cool on hot summer days, and a mini coffee pot can ensure that you always stay energized no matter the time of day.

Tools Every Truck Driver Needs On the Road

There are plenty of safe cooking appliances as well. Small microwaves, electric frying pans and grills and lunchbox ovens are all perfectly safe ways to prepare a homemade meal on the go. If you’re more of the outdoorsy type, get a small propane grill. However, make sure that you take it outside before you light it up, otherwise you risk carbon monoxide poisoning.

Before you go around buying all of the above listed appliances, make sure that your truck’s power supply can handle them all. You don’t want to sacrifice a load just because you decided to make a homemade pizza in your new mini pizza oven.

Stock Up on Easy-to-Prep Food Items

Steak, potatoes, chicken breast, asparagus, cheese, bread, carrots…there are plenty of foods out there that don’t require much prep work to make yet that still taste good going down. Those foods also happen to be good for you. Before you hit the road, make a list of the meals you’re going to want to eat and what you need for each. Then hit the grocery store. Remember, you’re working with limited space, so don’t treat your grocery shopping as you would when shopping for your home.

When shopping, remember that the point of making your own foods is two-fold: to save money and to eat healthier. While one meal a month of steak and potatoes is actually good for you, loading up on just steak and potatoes is both bad for your body and your wallet. Stick to cheap, bulk foods that still deliver a nutritional punch. Think chicken, fish, turkey, yogurt, fruits and veggies. Don’t forget the spices, as you probably want to enjoy more flavorful foods than your average Mickey D’s can deliver.

Meals for Every Meal

If you’re not much of a cook, it can be hard to come up with easy-to-prepare meals that are both tasty and healthy. It can also be difficult to come up with variety. If you need some inspiration, consider making the following meals:

Breakfast

  • Omelets
  • Waffles
  • Oatmeal
  • Pancakes
  • Eggs
  • Turkey bacon

Lunch

  • Sandwiches
  • Salad
  • Leftovers
  • Tuna
  • Pizza
  • Mac and cheese
  • Grilled cheese

Dinner

  • Stew
  • Pot roast
  • Burgers
  • Hotdogs
  • Steaks
  • Chicken
  • Soup
  • BBQ pork
  • Stroganoff

Of course, you don’t want to forget sides and snacks. Pastas, rice, fruits, veggies and salads make for tasty and healthy sides to any of the above. If you have a sweet tooth, pack a pint of ice-cream or freeze a candy bar or two for an after-dinner treat.

When in Doubt, Meal Prep

If cooking in a semi truck doesn’t sound appealing, or if you just don’t trust yourself to summon up the energy and willpower to prep your own meals come meal time, consider simple and delicious meal prep ideas for truck drivers. If you have a spouse, let him or her give you a hand. In fact, meal prepping could be your guys’ way of bonding while you’re out on the road, and it can even allow you two to “share a meal” even when you’re miles apart.

Bonding moments aside, meal prep only requires a few hours of your time but can yield amazing results. Some people have gotten so good at meal prepping that they can make a whole week’s worth of food in just a few hours’ time. Those meals are generally healthier than what many other people make fresh. Once your meals are made, you can store them in small, reusable containers, which you can easily stow in your mini fridge. Plus, by meal prepping, you can save space on appliances and allow you more room to sprawl out at night.

Just because you’re a trucker doesn’t mean that you have to eat poorly. With the above tips, cooking in a big rig can be easy and fun, and, if cooking on the job doesn’t appeal to you, you can always jump on board the meal-prep bandwagon.

Simple and Delicious Meal Prep Ideas for Truck Drivers

Living a healthy lifestyle and consuming nutritious foods on a regular basis can be a real challenge for those who spend the majority of their time on the road. The stress of irregular work hours and the difficulty of finding fresh, healthy food can make meal prep for truck drivers a nightmare. However, preparing easy meals for truckers can be simple, especially with a bit of preparation and strategy.

Fresh Vegetables

When deciding on food to pack for truck drivers, vegetables are often an easy and delicious choice. They are relatively affordable, high in nutritional value, and easy to find, and as long as you have access to a refrigerator, they are perfect for long-haul trips. Try packing one or more of the following types of vegetables before your next trip:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery

If you find yourself getting bored with your normal vegetable routine, try adding a bit of peanut or almond butter to your celery. Some vegetables will taste even better when tossed with your favorite seasonings or vinaigrette dressing. Just be sure your vegetables are fresh and you don’t drown your vegetables in calorically dense dressings and nut butter.

Fresh Fruit

Much like fresh vegetables, fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, and grapes can be tasty and nutritious at the same time. Consuming fruits regularly is a great way to stay hydrated and obtain the important vitamins and nutrients your body needs to stay energized and healthy. When choosing fresh fruit, try to avoid fruits that are bruised or dull in color. If you absolutely cannot find fresh fruit near you, look for fruit cups that contain juice instead of high-fructose corn syrup.

Nuts and Seeds

Raw nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds are high in protein, fiber, and “good” unsaturated fats. Many of them also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your chances of heart problems, as well as vitamin E, which can help reduce the amount of plaque that accumulates in your arteries. Roasted seeds are known to be an excellent source of zinc, which has been proven to be beneficial for men’s health. When choosing nuts and seeds, try to avoid items packed in salt, and consume them sparingly—even though they are nutritious, they are still high in fat. If you are really craving something sweet and salty, try making your own homemade trail mix by adding dried fruits and a bit of chocolate to the nuts of your choice.

Boiled Eggs

Eggs are packed full of nutrients, and they are relatively simple to prepare. Eggs are high in protein, vitamin D, iron, and vitamin B2. Their whites also contain nutrients such as selenium and cholesterol, and many brands of eggs now contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can keep your heart healthy and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Boiled eggs will also store well as long as they are kept at a safe temperature.

Greek Yogurt

The nutritional value of many types of yogurts can be questionable, but Greek yogurt is high in protein, and many types are low in sugar. Most brands of Greek yogurt contain anywhere from eight to 12 grams of protein, as well as considerable levels of calcium and vitamin D. The cultures contained in yogurt have also been known to aid in digestive health and regularity. With so much to offer, consuming Greek yogurt is the perfect way to handle your ice cream cravings.

Protein Bars

Protein bars are a popular healthy snack, and they can be found in virtually every grocery store in the country. Once only consumed by bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, protein bars have become mainstream and are often substituted for entire meals. They contain relatively high amounts of protein and come in a wide variety of flavors and textures. When choosing a protein bar, be sure to carefully examine the fat and sugar content before making a final decision. In an effort to boost sales and appeal to a wider variety of palates, many protein bar manufacturers have opted to add unhealthy amounts of sugar and fat to their products. These types of protein bars can be immensely unhealthy when consumed on a regular basis.

Muffins

Contrary to popular belief, muffins can be tasty and nutritious. They also store well, making them ideal for long trips. In general, homemade muffins that incorporate fresh oats, nuts, fruits, and seeds tend to be significantly healthier than prepackaged grocery store and coffee shop muffins. They are much lower in sugar, and many people add healthy add-ins such as protein powder to increase the nutritional value.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

As mentioned above, meal prep for truck drivers can be simple with just a bit of preparation and planning. High-calorie, sugar-laden foods may be more convenient, but your body will thank you if you choose to consume the healthier options listed above instead. To make meal preparation easier, try packing items that store well before your trip so you don’t have to keep running to the store.

How Long-Haul Drivers Can Stay Awake While Driving

Though many long-haul drivers may have been lured into the industry by dreams of the open road and freedom from the stress of a 9-5 job, the job of road warrior is anything but a dream. Instead, it is filled with many different types of stress that differ greatly from those in the jobs they may have previously held.

Turning Wheels Mean Dollar Signs

One of the most stressful parts of driving long-haul is often seen plastered on t-shirts, coffee mugs and posters in truck stops across the country. Though the grammar may make some people cringe, the well-known saying “If the wheels ain’t turning, you ain’t making no money” is one that is known across all aspects of the industry. In essence, it means that anytime the truck is not moving, it is not making any money for the owner.

This leads trucking companies to come up with creative solutions, such as assigning two drivers to the same truck, each sleeping while the other is driving. It does not matter, however, if drivers are alone, or if they have a partner sleeping in the back of the rig. The long miles drive across the country can feel even longer than they really are, no matter how excited they were to begin driving a big rig for a living.

Boredom Leads to Mental Exhaustion

Current log book regulations mean that gone is the day that a driver could make his way across the country only taking cat-naps. Instead, drivers today have enforced limits on how long they can drive before they are required to take a specific length of time off-duty. There is much heated debate about whether or not the current system of hourly regulations really work out best for those who are behind the wheel, but currently they stand as law.

On average, a trucker drives anywhere between 2,000 – 3,000 miles each week. Even with enough sleep or off-duty time, the long miles put in by truck drivers can lead to a very real mental exhaustion which can, if not recognized and planned for, lead to a driver falling asleep behind the wheel. No matter if they spend those miles listening to talk radio, to music, or talking on the phone via Bluetooth headset (drivers are not permitted to hold their cell phones while they drive), the passing miles and the hypnotic hum of the tires on the road can still lead to boredom and mental exhaustion.

Tried and Trusted Tips to Avoid Falling Asleep

Thankfully, drivers are typically willing to share with each other the tips and tricks that keep them from falling asleep while driving. Following is a list of ways that have been found to work for those who are looking for better ways of staying awake.

  • Healthy Food – Though it is so tempting to indulge in fast food meals while driving, many have found that healthy meals consisting of protein and complex carbohydrates help them stay awake for much longer than foods that are full of fats, salt and sugars. Healthy snacks work as well. Instead of grabbing a candy bar, truckers who want to stay awake prefer trail mix, or a bag of almonds. Having a mini-fridge and a small cooking oven in the truck are not only convenient, they enable drivers to eat much more healthy foods overall.
  • Switch up the Listening – Drivers should change up listening selections while driving. Alternate between music, talk radio, podcasts and digital books. This way, the brain will be entertained instead of falling into a bored, sleepy slump. And if all else fails, turning up the volume to ear-splitting levels and singing along seems to work as well.
  • Cat Nap – Taking a short nap before starting on a long drive can be incredibly beneficial. In fact, studies show that a nap that is under an hour can power you enough to stay awake for many more hours than had you taken a nap that lasted for a few hours. Drivers who find themselves becoming drowsy on the road can always pull over and grab a 20-minute power nap in order to make it to the needed destination.
  • Get Out and Move – Sitting for extended periods of time can be hard on a body too. Any time drivers feel sleepiness sneaking in is a good time to find a spot for some safe exercise. This can be as little as a few laps around the truck or as extensive as some push-ups, squats and a quick jog. Getting that heart rate up means the blood will be less-sluggish upon return to the drier seat.
  • Don’t fall for Caffeine – Good hydration is very important to staying alert. Unfortunately, sodas that are readily available in every truck stop do not aid to overall hydration. Even worse is the fact that drinking too much caffeine while driving can make a driver need to find a restroom much more frequently than if they had simply stayed with water.

No matter the reason for getting into the long-haul industry, the end result is typically the same after many miles driven. Being prepared to combat sleepiness and stay wide awake, no matter how long the road ahead, should be the goal of every road warrior.

Health Concerns All Truckers Should Know About

Though many over-the-road drivers may enjoy their jobs, education about possible health problems that are common for those in the industry is increasingly important. Health problems can all too frequently mean that a driver can no longer certify for a CDL, adding to the nation’s driver shortage. In fact, a recent study completed by the American Trucking Association found that by the end of 2017, the driver shortage could reach 50,000.

Most Common Health Problems

In order to keep qualified and competent drivers on the road, companies must find ways of alerting, educating and incentivizing their drivers to avoid some of the biggest common health problems. These include:

  • Exhaustion – Whether the exhaustion is due to an ever-changing sleep schedule, or to the fact that the time spent behind the wheel can be mind-numbing, many drivers report a feeling of exhaustion a majority of the time. This exhaustion, if not handled correctly, can lead to accidents on the highways. Companies that acknowledge driver exhaustion and provide education, permission for drivers to make needed stops, and incentives for exercise may find that drivers begin to report less exhaustion once beneficial changes become habit.
  • Work-Related Injuries – While some might scoff at the thought of getting a workplace injury while sitting behind the wheel of a semi, drivers experience such health problems all too frequently. Musculoskeletal disorders are often the most common type of injury, as drivers are often tasked to load or unload some or all of the freight in a trailer. Injury of the back and neck are most common. Working with drivers to educate them about the necessity of a proper stretch or warm-up period before lifting may help to alleviate some of these injuries.

Repetitive motion injuries are often experienced in the trucking industry as well, especially in the wrist, hand and knee. This is most likely due to the need for drivers to constantly shift gears (wrist and knee) and keep a frim grip on the steering wheel (hand.) Encouraging drivers to engage in exercises for each of these areas daily may be the answer to this type of injury.

  • Risks of Sitting – A recent study conducted by Harvard University confirmed, once again, that sitting for long periods of time puts people at a heightened risk of death from all causes. Though the exact connection between sitting and poor health was not pinpointed, the chances of early death were found to be much higher, documenting increased rates of death from type 2 diabetes, cancer, and even an increased risk of dementia. This study also found that even people who exercised for up to an hour a day continued to be at risk if they also spent prolonged hours sitting each day.
  • Obesity – It should come as no surprise that the first occupation on the list of highest obesity rates is that of a truck driver. After all, who would not gain weight and keep it on if each day consisted of up to 11 hours of sitting and the easiest meals were the unhealthy offerings of fast food chains or truck stops. Companies that provide drivers with a small fridge and a way to heat healthier options are on the road to helping each driver be more healthy. Incentivizing an exercise program can also give drivers a reason to take regular exercise breaks.
  • Sleep Apnea – A high body mass index (BMI), regularly found in long-haul drivers, can also lead to a disorder called sleep apnea. Basically, a driver never gets good sleep because they stop breathing through the night as their upper respiratory system constricts and blocks air flow. Many times, drivers do not even realize that they are waking repeatedly during the night, they only know that they rarely wake feeling refreshed. Heavy snoring is one sign that a driver may be suffering from this health concern. Companies that offer free testing for sleep apnea, as well as follow up care are sure to find that drivers perform much better and are of better health with the properly prescribed breathing machine.
  • Stimulant Dependence – Sleepy truckers frequently find it simple to grab a stimulant, whether in pill form, in a soda, or an enhanced power bar. The problem comes in the fact that, taken regularly, caffeine builds a dependency in users. Truckers typically need more to stay alert and find themselves with an excruciating headache when they go without caffeine. A better suggestion is to engage in healthy ways of staying alert such as stretching, drinking cold water, and eating apples or baby carrots. By doing this, drivers can grab something caffeinated on occasion without fear of becoming dependent.

The Healthy Driver

When trucking companies and their drivers agree on the fact that driver health is of utmost importance, changes can be encouraged which will benefit all involved. Ongoing education and incentive programs can not only have a positive effect on health, but also on mental health. And a healthy driver is one who can remain an asset long into the future.

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!

Driving Is Not a Form of Exercise

How many hours did you spend sitting on your bottom yesterday? Truck driving is a sedentary career and many drivers find themselves sitting a little, or a lot, too much. Aside from securing loads and walking across the truck stop many truckers spend the entire day sitting down. And when you’re in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from home, you may not have easy access to the gym, team sports, or other physical activities.

This can have disastrous consequences, not just for your waistline, but for your health in general. A 2014 study found that long haul truckers were twice as likely as the rest of the population to be obese (69% of drivers are considered obese, 17% morbidly obese). Break the cycle and take control of your health. You can exercise and stay fit on the road.

Why Should I Exercise?

Do you really need to exercise? The answer is a great big yes! According to the CDC, exercise has the following benefits:

  • Controls weight
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Reduces the risk of some types of cancer
  • Strengthens bone and muscle
  • Improves mental health
  • Improves your ability to perform daily activities
  • Increases your chances of living longer I Haven’t Exercised in Years. How Do I Start? If you have health conditions that may affect your ability to exercise, talk with your doctor about what you can and can’t do before getting started. There’s nothing wrong with starting small and working up to a more strenuous activity level as you can. You may feel that you’re too busy to exercise, but the truth is, it doesn’t take much time to really see the benefits. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week, just a bit more than 20 minutes a day. You should also strength train your muscles two times each week. You can fit this in, even on your high mileage weeks. Ways to Incorporate More Exercise into Your Life on the Road
  • Make the commitment today to improve your health and exercise a little more. You might drive a truck, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a lifetime of poor health. Make a change today!
  • If you’re short on time, work up to a more intense exercise regimen and you’ll only need 75 minutes of exercise a week, plus strength training two times. You can achieve better health in just 10-20 minutes a day.
  • How Much Exercise Do I Need?
  • If you’re like many truckers, it has been years since you regularly participated in physical activity. Start slow. The CDC explains, “Cardiac events, such as a heart attack, are rare during physical activity. But the risk does go up when you suddenly become much more active than usual. For example, you can put yourself at risk if you don’t usually get much physical activity and then all of a sudden do vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, like shoveling snow. That’s why it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase your level of activity.”
  • It is never too late to start exercising and to improve your health.
  • Break it Up– You won’t always have an hour to exercise, but you can find 10 minutes, even on a busy day. Try exercising for 10 minutes, or more, each morning before you start rolling and another 10 minutes each night when you finish off for the day. Alternately, you could take a 10 minute exercise break each time you stop for fuel or a bathroom break.
  • Stock Some Equipment– Going to the gym isn’t generally feasible when you’re on the road, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your own gym along. You can easily fit some resistance bands, a kettle ball or weights, and a jump rope in your truck, everything you need to exercise on your own.
  • Make Yourself Accountable– If you want to be successful with your exercise program, make yourself accountable. Ask a friend, fellow driver, dispatcher, or family member to check in on you often. Report your successes and failures. Accountability can help you to exercise, even on those days you don’t feel up to it. Exercising on the road can be tricky, but you can do it. These resources may help you to succeed.
  • Resources to Help You Succeed
  • Fitness Blender– Stream workout videos right to your phone, laptop, or tablet with Fitness Blender. Many of their workout videos are completely free and require minimal to no equipment. Daily Burn is another option, but does require a small monthly membership fee.
  • Fitness Apps– Fitness apps can make accountability easier as you track and monitor your progress. PC World put together an excellent list of the top fitness apps of 2016.
  • Have you gotten your exercise in 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?

Sleep- Essentials of Health and Wellness for Truck Drivers

Are you getting enough sleep? Many truckers don’t and it can have a negative impact on both quality of life/health and safety behind the wheel. What can you do? How can you get enough sleep with the crazy hours trucking brings? Getting plenty of sleep as an over the road trucker isn’t going to be easy, but with these tips you can get the most ZZZZs possible even if your situation isn’t ideal.

Why Is Sleep Important?

The Department of Transportation estimates that fatigue related causes account for about 13% of all truck accidents. It can also increase your risk for negative health effects including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes (all things that truck drivers are at risk for). Getting sleep on the road is difficult, but the risks of not getting enough sleep are worse. Make sleep a priority.

What Can You Do?

Getting enough good quality sleep is difficult when you’re on the road and dealing with variable schedules. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Avoid Drowsy Times- Your body is most drowsy from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. and
    from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. If you can, stay off the road during these particularly drowsy hours.
  • Nap Properly– A nap can be a great way to fight fatigue, but only if you do it properly. An effective nap should be more than 10 minutes but less than 45 minutes. Give yourself 15 minutes to fully wakeup before you get back on the road. Short naps have been shown to restore energy more effectively than coffee. Naps work best if they are used preventatively before you get tired, rather than after.
  • Skip the Tricks– What’s your secret to staying awake when tired? Many drivers rely on caffeine, an open window, loud music, and other tricks to stay awake on the road. These tricks may increase alertness for a few minutes, but they aren’t effective or reliable. Skip the tricks and pull over for some shut eye if you’re feeling drowsy. Caffeine can be a tool you use, but use it wisely.
  • Turn Off Your Alarm– During the week, you’ll likely need an alarm to get to deliveries and pick-ups on time, but when you’re home for the weekend or taking a restart, turn off the alarm. Let your body get the rest it needs and sleep until you’re no longer tired. These periods of rest can help you from becoming severely sleep deprived.

While fatigue is possible at any time, it is especially common during periods of shift or schedule changes. These tips will help you adjust:

  • Stick with Your Schedule/Routine– Limiting the changes your body goes through can help you adjust to a change. Try to stick with your typical work schedule, even if you’re home for a few days. If you do need to change your schedule, keep your pre-bed routines in place and use light and dark to help you adjust.
  • Get More Sleep– When going through times of adjustment, increase your sleep if you can. Getting more sleep helps your body adjust to the changes.

Sleep Disorders- Do You Have One?

In the U.S. alone 70 million people have some sort of sleep disorder, or a condition that keeps them from getting sufficient restorative sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), insomnia, and restless leg syndrome are common sleep disorders. If you have one, work with your doctor to minimize its impact on your sleep and to find effective strategies for getting the rest you need. Talk with your doctor about sleep disorders and be aware of the signs of sleep disorders so you know if you’re at risk.

Tools for Better Sleep

The North American Fatigue Management Program is a great resource for truckers, their families, and others involved in the transportation industry. They have two great courses on fatigue that drivers should consider taking: Driver Education (focused on fatigue and fatigue management) and Driver Sleep Disorders Management.

Make the commitment today to getting better sleep. Your health and safety depend on it. And keep checking back for more tips on truck driver health and safety.