Maintaining a healthy lifestyle whilst working out on the road can be a quite a challenge. A driving career is pretty unique and means arranging your lifestyle around your job. There are certainly many positives but maintaining a healthy work/life balance is essential.
Tips for staying healthy –
- Identify the need to be healthy and establish a plan of action to adhere to. Stipulate times for food and exercise in a daily plan. Beginning with a schedule, even if the motorway ultimately conspires against you, will mean that you are more likely to make time for exercise and to eat at the right times.
- Eat healthier food. Not all truck stops and road side cafes offer healthy options so it might be worth researching ones that do. It’s also worth thinking about your portions and finding out how much food is healthy. Snacking to a schedule can actually be a good thing as long as it comprises things like fruit, nuts or protein bars. Always have water available and drink often. Staying hydrated is really important but it might be a good idea to know where the toilets are on your route!
- Don’t smoke. Although maybe an obvious point to make it’s easy to use smoking as a way to fill the time and subsequently lose track of how many you’ve smoked.
- Make time to exercise. Even if it’s just making time to take a walk this will exercise your body, get your heart rate moving and relax your mind. We look at ways to exercise in more detail later on.
- Wash your hands regularly. If you don’t have a healthy diet your immune system is weak, especially if you don’t exercise or get much sleep. Remembering to wash your hands regularly, especially before eating, will help to avoid illness.
- Get plenty of rest. Aside from staying healthy you need to ensure that you are awake and alert. Schedule times to rest to rejuvenate both mind and body.
Replace lost vitamins. Embarking on a course of vitamins will help to fill nutrient gaps that may be missing from your current diet.
- Keep your mind active. Miles and miles of monotonous road and tail lights can be boring and distracting neither of which are conducive to driving. You could purchase or borrow audio books exploring the works of specific authors or detailing topics that interest you. Maybe you could start to learn a new language or branch out in your taste of music, serving to stimulate your mind and alleviating boredom.
- Maintain a connection with home. Being on the road for a long time might not always lead to a healthy family life. Certain journeys might be worth sharing in advance with the children, getting them to research specific stops along the way. Take a camera with you or use your smart phone to take some pictures of points of interest, as long as it’s safe to do so, and share experiences when you get home. Maybe you could get an audio copy of a book and the same hard copy or kindle version for your wife and both read it simultaneously stimulating conversation both by phone and when you get home.
Healthy road food
- Quick meals – High fibre foods can leave you fuller for longer yet are usually lower in calories and fat. Good, easy breakfast options include oatmeal cereals with low fat milk and fresh fruit. Salads for lunch are a good option as are broth-based soups such as vegetable or chicken noodles. If eating out, selecting grilled meats will help to cut back on fat and calories, as will finding a healthy alternative to chips with everything!
- Snacking can be good for you – Healthy snacking can minimise the urge for fast food when hunger strikes. Apples, oranges and bananas are all foods that travel well under almost any conditions and along with items such as unsalted mixed nuts and whole grain crackers can provide a good source of nutrients, protein and fibre.
- Watch what you drink – It’s better to eat your calories rather than drink them. Diet or other artificially sweetened drinks can lead to craving sweets and other unhealthy foods so it’s best to stick to water or unsweetened tea or coffee for quenching that thirst.
Spending long periods of time in the same position means that exercise is vitally important to get blood pumping and stretch muscles. Here are a few ideas as to how to keep in shape.
- Hand stretches – After long spells gripping the steering wheel, hands and fingers may start to feel stiff once you let go. Simple hand stretches can help to reduce the risk of arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. At a red light rotate your wrist left and right in a circle. Stretch your hand by placing the fingertips of one hand on top of the steering wheel, gently press your weight into your hand and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other hand at the next light.
- Abdominal crunch – You could use songs from the radio to help strengthen abdominal muscles. Squeeze your abdominals at the beginning of a particular song and hold for the duration or as long as you can muster. Use songs, radio reports or traffic lights as cues for the exercise.
- Shoulder shrugs – Performing shoulder shrugs can help to relieve stress and tension from the shoulder area and can be done whilst at a red light or on a lunch break. Simply lift shoulders up to your ears, hold and then release. Perform 10 – 15 reps throughout the day or at times when you’re feeling particularly tense or stressed.