When you think of embarking on a driving career the first things you tend to consider are the rates of pay, the routes you will drive and the hours you will work, but at what point do you start to consider the problems faced by truck drivers?
Is it before you start, as you research and weigh up the pros and cons of the role or is it after you have started the job that you start to notice the potential side effects of being a truck driver?
Wherever you are in your driving career, now is the time to consider some of the problems faced by truck drivers and start to build a wellness plan into your routine. In a role where you are sitting down for long periods you could experience a drop in energy levels, weight fluctuations and reduced joint flexibility, some of which, left unchecked can lead to bigger health concerns.
Breaks, meals times and rest periods are all governed by your driver hours which can quickly put your eating habits and exercise regimes off kilter, but truck driver health risks can be controlled and avoided with consideration, enthusiasm and a little planning.
It is essential to make sure you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle when you are facing long hours out on the road, early starts and late nights so start by considering all 5 elements of a healthy lifestyle and see what changes you can make to your day to day regime.
Practical tips for mastering the 5 elements of a healthy lifestyle
A balanced diet is not just down to the type of food you eat. It is also down to the quantity and frequency of food that you must consider. Eating healthy sugar free snacks at regular intervals throughout the day will help to keep your energy levels up. Munching on healthy sugar free, natural snacks will not only prevent a blood sugar spike and the resulting inevitable lethargy, but it will also keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders helping your body to convert food into energy efficiently.
Providing you have parked up somewhere suitable and safe, using your break time to get out of the cab, stretch your legs and get your circulation going is a quick and easy habit to get into.
If a workout routine is something you could get stuck into then a great addition to any cab is a set of suspension cables or resistance bands. They are a portable, flexible workout solution when space is at a premium. These will help you to strengthen your muscles and lightly flex your joints wherever you are.
Getting a good night’s sleep when you are driving all day should be a priority in anyone’s wellness regime. It's not only important to make sure that you are using your driver hours to get a full 9 hours sleep where you can but also ensuring that the rest you are having is comfortable and undisturbed.
- Block all light out from your sleeping area or invest in a comfortable eye mask.
- Use earplugs or white noise to help block out any ambient or traffic sounds, this is especially important if you are parking up in a lay-by or service area for the night.
- Keep your sleeping area comfortable and avoid condensation build up with good air circulation and dehumidifier (condensation) crystals.
- Select a good pillow, duvet and mattress.
Controlling your weight can be difficult when your eating habits vary and healthy food options are scarce, so it is important that you pay close attention to the amount of food that you are consuming in comparison to the level of exercise you are doing. A calorie and portion controlled diet that you track via an app is a good way to keep you on track and accountable for your food choices.
5. Stress reduction
Heightened concentration for long periods of time, other drivers, delivery deadlines looming and the typical UK traffic on the roads can all create the perfect storm for a stressful day.
Being aware of your rising stress levels and knowing how to counteract them is essential to maintaining a healthily lifestyle. A healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body.
- Road Rage - Learn how to manage and avoid road rage to keep a cool head. Our road rage blog post and road rage infographic both provide some excellent tips for staying calm while driving.
- Learning - Engage your mind in a productive and rewarding way by learning something new, perhaps a new language.
- Humour - No one can be happy and sad at the same time so keep your humour up with joke books, light hearted reading and funny podcasts.
- Activity - Squeezing stress balls or fiddling with a fidget cube are great ways to occupy your hands and quiet your mind.
- Breathing - Practice slow, deep and easy breathing that engages your diaphragm. Focus on your breath and your pulse to breathe through moments of anxiety, frustration or anger.
- Meditation - Mastering the art of meditation can be beneficial to your mental health, stress levels and overall happiness. It costs nothing to learn and you don't need any equipment. Learn some basic meditation techniques.
For a first-hand account of what it takes to be an HGV Driver and maintain a healthy lifestyle when you are out on the road check out our recent interview with Blue Arrow HGV Driver, Simon.