A Frequent Driver’s Guide to Better Health

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If you drive frequently as part of your job, you know how stressful it can be to sit for prolonged periods of time. By the end of the day, your back is hurting, your eyes are bloodshot, and you feel exhausted. If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. What’s more, all that pain and exhaustion is likely trying to tell you that your health isn’t handling your long days of driving very well. Sitting might seem like the safest thing you can do, but it’s actually one of the most hazardous. In fact, the World Health Organization states that inactivity and sedentary lifestyles kill almost six million people per year. Inactivity has been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, and other serious illnesses. But if driving is a significant portion of your work, such as it is for long haul truck drivers, how are you supposed to get around it? Here are some tips that can help keep you healthy out on the road.

Mind Your Circulation

One of the most important tasks for anyone who drives extensively is to maintain proper circulation. In an office, this is easily accomplished by standing up and walking around once an hour or more. In a car or truck, though, that option doesn’t exist. Here are some things you can do, though.

●     Tap your feet.

●     Bounce your legs.

●     Raise and lower your legs.

●     Move your feet in circles.

●     Extend your legs, then pull them back.

Obviously, you’ll want to do these things with the leg that’s not operating the pedals while you’re driving or wait until a stop light. However, these minor motions can help keep your circulation in check.

Take Care of Your Joints and Back

Sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause bone and joint problems. It can also wreak havoc on your spine. How you sit can make a difference, though. Don’t slouch. Doing so puts pressure on your lower back, spine, and neck. Make sure your seat is an appropriate distance from your pedals. If you’re too close, it causes you to sit in an awkward, cramped position. If it’s too far away, you’re forced to hyperextend or stretch your legs in strange ways. Either can cause stress and strain on your joints and back. Have your seat in an upright position, not pitched forward or leaning too far back as you’ll have to strain your neck in both cases. Make sure your seat has proper cushioning and back support, as well.

Maintain Proper Nutrition

Excessive sugar, salt, fat, and caffeine can be torture for your body. Nuts, dried fruit, juices, salads, and low-fat protein are great options. Consume plenty of water as hydration is crucial for your health and alertness while driving long distances. Avoiding fat, salt, and sugar can help you stay awake for longer since all three of those ingredients cause fatigue. Protein can help keep you satiated so you avoid reaching for unhealthy snacks. Here are some critical tips to remember.

●     Water is essential, and drinking enough of it is important. Take your weight, divide it in half, and that’s the number of ounces of water you should be drinking per day just to stay hydrated.

●     Avoid caffeine as much as possible. Not only is it a diuretic, which will rob your body of water, but it leads to crashes which will make you feel fuzzy, unfocused, and tired.

●     Reach for good snacks like dried fruit and almonds instead of sugary, salty processed food.

●     If you have to go through a fast food drive-through or restaurant, choose the most colorful options. Healthy food is usually colorful, such as salads and fruit.

Following these tips can be helpful to long haul truck drivers and others who have to spend long hours on the road for work. Focusing on circulation, ergonomics, and nutrition will help you stay alert and healthy. Try to include walking, running, cycling, or another activity during your down time to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Doing so will help you feel better both on and off the road.

 

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