Truckers keep America moving forward delivering the goods we all need to live each day. They haul loads across the country in every kind of weather, always making sure their cargo is safe, secure, and in perfect shape. And in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have become more essential than ever before.
But what about our truckers’ health? Unfortunately, the numbers are not encouraging. According to a study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), more than half of long-haul truckers are in the obese range. It’s true that trucking isn’t conducive to physical fitness – sitting for long hours while driving, deadlines that need to be met to get the loads in on time, and limited choices when it comes to healthy eating on the road.
Yet, truck drivers need to make a greater effort to stay fit. Truck drivers can stay fit and make healthy choices during their cross-country hauling. It might take a little bit of effort and planning, but there is no reason why truck drivers can’t stay healthy while they do their job. That’s why we want to offer tips on exercise and nutrition for truckers who spend most of their time doing their job. After all, we need truck drivers and truck drivers need to stay healthy. So, what’s a truck driver to do? Let’s dig a little deeper.
Simple Exercises for Truck Drivers
Let’s look at fitness, including simple yet effective exercise routines truckers can do during their hauls. Also, let’s talk about healthy food options for drivers on the go. A truck driver can exercise regularly, at least 15 to 30 minutes a day is recommended, with minimal equipment right in a parking lot. In fact, their truck can become part of the routine, too! For example, a trucker can wrap a resistance band around a door handle and use it to work their biceps and triceps. Also, a simple exercise or yoga mat on the ground next to the truck cab can be ideal for crunches, sit-ups, and planks.
Resistance bands and mats are inexpensive and easy to store because they take up very little space. But if you prefer not to spend any money, all you really need is your body and your mind. Here are some exercises to try:
- Hip Openers
- Calf Stretches
- Prisoner Stretches
- Runner’s Stretches
- Cat-Cow Stretches
- Standing Hamstring Stretch
- Soldier Walk
- Arms & Wrists Stretch
There are certainly more exercises to consider, but these are some of the easiest options truck drivers can select when they want to stay fit without much effort or extra devices.
Consider Short Workouts for Maximum Effect
You can also consider shorter workouts to stay healthy. For instance, there are 30-minute workouts for truck drivers you can consider that can be done in place. Workouts such as:
- Warm up: Jog in place for 20 seconds; do jumping jacks for 20 seconds; or do 20 seconds of windmills.
- Push-ups: Use your own body weight to crank out five repetitions, or 10 or 15. You can graduate from standing with hands on the side of the truck, to standing with hands on the truck’s bunk or sidestep, to hands on the ground.
- Lunges: Alternate left and right leg while you walk around the perimeter of the truck. Feeling ambitious? Add hand weights for more of a challenge.
- Squats: You can hold on to the truck for stability or do it without any arm support.
- Planks: Get into push-up position, put your elbows and forearms on the ground, keep your core tight and steady, then hold for 20 seconds. Increase your hold time as you get more practice.
- Walking: Reap the benefits of taking a brisk walk. Accumulating 10,000 steps a day is the desired minimum. Also, a 30-minute walk will burn 200-300 calories.
Truck Driver Workout Equipment Suggestions
Do you want to spend a little coin on decent exercise equipment? There is nothing wrong with using some of your hard-earned resources to purchase equipment that keeps you healthy and fit. Many truck drivers do this, and we recommend it. Fortunately, we have some suggestions.
- Resistance bands: These are perfect to stimulate much needed muscle work, including arms, chest, and legs. Buy them with handles or without handles. They run anywhere from $10-$30.
- Exercise Mats: Spread it out on the ground and use it to do planks, push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, and more. An exercise mat will run you as little as $20.
- Dumbbells: Great for working biceps and triceps, always compact and easy to carry. Prices will vary depending on the weight and quality but expect a range anywhere from $20 to $100 a pair.
- Kettlebells: Swinging a kettlebell can be a robust muscle workout, especially if you combine the swinging motions with leg exercises, twists, and cardio moves. Kettlebells range from $20-$300.
- Medicine balls: Strength training, particularly rehabilitative strength training, is the specialty of these heavyweight balls. Prices vary depending on weight but expect about $10-$100.
Top Tips for Truck Drivers Looking to Lose Weight
The key is to stay active, especially since trucking is normally a very sedentary job. Exercise at least 15 minutes a day – anything from taking walks to working out at truck stop gyms. Eat healthier food, particularly vegetables, lean meats and fish, whole grains, nuts, and beans. Limit fried, fatty, and processed snacks. And minimize your sugar intake. Sodas are loaded with sugar, as are pre-made juices, smoothies, and energy drinks.
Eating right goes together with exercise and fitness. For truckers, that combination provides the essential ingredients for health and longevity. That combination is extra important for truckers since hauling loads for a living involves long stretches of sitting.
Add in healthy foods instead of depriving yourself or making big changes all at once. When we mean small, we mean tiny. Your new habit should be so small that it is an easy addition to your routine. These small healthy habits will begin to add up and will make a big impact over time. They say it take 21 days to do the same thing to establish this thing into a solid routine. Some ideas of small habit changes include:
- Add a vegetable to one of your meals for one week or more.
- Add some fruit to one of your meals for one week or more.
- Then add another vegetable to a different meal the following week or two.
- Add 1 ounce of water to what you already drink for the week. You don’t drink water at all? Start with buying a water bottle. Set it in your cab for a week. The following week fill it will 2 ounces of water. Do that each day for a week. Then add 2 more ounces (4 ounces total). Then a week later, add 2 more ounces.
- Once you master one small habit, add another tiny habit.
Watch the Ingredients in the Food You Buy
The best way to guarantee you eat the right food is to buy it and make it yourself. For a busy trucker, that may not be as difficult as it sounds. More and more truckers are opting to supply their rigs with the ideal equipment to prepare, transport, and cook their own meals. When you cook, you need to make sure you read what’s in the food you cook. For example:
- Lists of ingredients should be short, and they should include ingredients you can pronounce. Also, choose foods that are very low in sugar or no sugar.
- Look for higher fiber, protein content. Avoid trans fats and excessive sugars.
- Watch out for higher saturated fat, sodium, and sugar (a 20% daily value or more is high).
What you eat is informed by the ingredients you choose. Don’t utilize ingredients that taste good but have little to no nutritional value. Choose vegetables and other foods and ingredients that are low in fat and processed sugars.
Choose the Right Cooking Equipment
Now let’s look at the equipment you can set up in your cab. It may seem counterintuitive to put electric cooking equipment in a small space like a truck cab, but worry not, manufacturers of these materials and devices have taken space into account. And in many cases, trucking companies will provide inverters and other battery-powered options to ensure your equipment can be powered when you need it to be.
- Mini refrigerators: A mini fridge can be quite a godsend on the road because it means you can transport a variety of foods that you prepare at home before you hit the highway. Also, it’s cheaper to buy your own ingredients in bulk. For instance, buy a nice batch of veggies and take them with you. Make your own smoothies at home and take a large supply with you. You can even transport, say, chicken and fish to cook while you are on the road. Most mini-fridges are 12 volts and compact. They run between $200-$700.
- Ovens: Think microwave ovens or toaster ovens for your truck. You have a healthy hot meal right at your fingertips. Mini microwaves will run you from $75 to about $120. Toaster ovens can be especially nifty because some come with a griddle and coffee maker all in one. You can buy a basic toaster oven or one that provides the extras. Think a price range of $30 to $130.
- Slow cookers: If you’re angling for that home-cooked meal comfort, a slow cooker on the road would be the ideal gadget for you. You can cook your own stews, soups, rice, etc. while you drive to your next destination. Plus, who doesn’t love the aroma of a great meal on the stove? Slow cookers for truckers vary in price depending on the brand and the extras but expect a cost range from $25 to $200.
- Other items to consider: An electric skillet, a small blender, coolers, and ice packs if you can’t have the mini-fridge.
We hope you have enjoyed Part I of our Two-Part series. Join us next time as we take another in-depth look at how truck drivers can stay healthy on the road!