Common Job Health Hazards
There are many physical health hazards that truckers face on the job. Most of them are due to a lack of physical activity and the poor diet that often comes with being on the road. The most common health issues truckers face include heart disease, diabetes, sleep ailments, and stress. They can also fall prey to depression, most often caused by prolonged periods of isolation. Here 5 truck driver health tips to combat those common issues.
1. Stay Hydrated
It’s easy to get dehydrated on long drives, especially if you forget to stock up on liquids. Proper hydration is one of the most important parts of staying healthy. If you don’t consume enough liquid, your body and mind won’t be able to work at peak condition because they’ll be too busy conserving energy.
Dehydration can dull your reflexes, cause you to feel inattentive, and lead to further health issues down the road. Hydration can also help the nutrients in food get delivered to your cells faster and keep your organs functioning properly.
It’s not the best idea to wait until you’re super thirsty before getting a drink, either. When your body only receives hydration in bursts, it will often either store more liquid than needed or cause you to go to the bathroom more often to get rid of the excess.
2. Eat Fruits and Veggies
It’s also important that truck drivers try to eat healthy foods whenever possible, rather than junk like pizza, fast food, and sugar-heavy snacks. Sitting in a cab doesn’t provide many opportunities for exercise, so it’s important not to indulge in excess calories.
Too much of anything can be a bad thing, even with something like fruit. While the sweetness in fruit are natural and not as harmful as refined sugar, it’s still sugar, and overdoing it can be easy. Try not to fall for refined foods that pretend to offer fruit – cherry pie filling isn’t part of a healthy diet!
Fresh produce is always the best, but it’s not always something you can access on the road, and it spoils fairly quickly. Preserved fruits and vegetables aren’t as healthy for you as fresh ones, but it’s still significantly better than processed stuff, if you can manage.
3. Avoid Stimulants
Staying awake and attentive is important when driving, especially when you’re driving a giant truck. While things like coffee, energy drinks, and other caffeinated items may seem like a good way to manage this, you may want to reconsider. Excessive caffeine consumption has been known to lead to heart conditions, trouble sleeping, depression, high stress, anxiety, and much more.
Not only that, but caffeine can have a diuretic effect – meaning more bathroom breaks to interrupt your trip. Stimulants are intended to be used only on occasion to provide short-term benefits, not to become a way of life. In extreme cases, overuse of caffeine may cause permanent side effects like sleep apnea, heart palpitations, and sometimes even hallucinations (especially in people with pre existing mental conditions).
4. Eat Light
While it may be tempting to pull over and help yourself to a big meal, it actually benefits you more to eat lighter. Studies have shown that eating smaller portions more frequently can improve your body’s performance and boost your digestion.
When you eat three heavy meals a day, your body has to spend more time digesting it, which means it will take longer to deliver the nutrients from it to the rest of your body. Eating this way can also lead to stomach issues like nausea and heartburn.
It’s easy to lose track of how much sleep you’re getting when on the road at all hours for days on end. One of the leading causes of car accidents in the United States is driving while sleep deprived. In fact, almost every study done on this subject has found that it’s just as dangerous as drunk driving. Driving while tired causes nearly the same number of accidents as drunk driving.
Sleep deprivation and intoxication can cause similar effects on the brain. They both make you less attentive, dull your reaction times, impair decision making abilities, and increase your stress and depression levels.
It can be easy to neglect your health when you have a job like truck driving. But remember, it’s extremely important, both for you and others around you, for you to take proper care of your mind and body. Make sure you stay hydrated, stick to a decent diet, and get the right amount of sleep. On your days off, try to get some physical activity to compensate for so much sitting while on the road.
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