Many truck drivers find themselves gaining unwanted weight due to the sedentary lifestyle of their work and lack of healthy food options on the road. Statistics from the National Institute of Health show that more than 50 percent of truck drivers are obese compared to the national rate of 26.7 percent. Weight gain can also contribute to problems such as diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea. According to the Obesity Action Organization, “Indicators for risk of hypertension include obesity, abdominal obesity, and weight gain.” They also state that “Being overweight or affected by obesity greatly increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”
Studies have even shown that obesity in truck drivers can cause more accidents. According to the NRCME, Healthy Trucking Association of America found shocking results, “’ That’s when the data stood up and shouted at us,’ says Jon Anderson, a biostatistician at the University of Minnesota, who co-authored the study. ‘We found really clear evidence that the highest body mass index drivers are at higher risk of having an accident.’”
So what are some ways truck drivers can lose weight and reduce their risk of disease and accidents?
Exercise in short breaks
It may seem hard to find time to exercise when you are on the road, especially for long-haul drivers. Most importantly, use whatever little time you do have to get in shape. If you are waiting to be loaded up or unloaded, grab the chance and exercise for a bit. Or even if you just have 10 to 15 minutes at a rest stop, a few times a day, walk briskly, do jumping jacks, or run in place. According to the American Heart Association, you should get 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five days a week, totaling 150 minutes spread out over a week. But those 30 minutes five days a week, can be spread out over 2 or 3 smaller sessions a day. In addition, abdominal crunches and push-ups are two examples of exercises you can do just about anywhere, even inside your sleeper cabin. Blast your favorite music to get enthusiastic and do small 10 min workouts two or three times a day.
Eating healthy is essential to losing weight. Avoid fried, fatty and processed foods. Try to eat more fresh foods. Keep a stock of fruits, precut veggies, roasted nuts, and boiled eggs and cheese in your refrigerator or cooler in your truck at all times. This will help you to avoid snacking on junk food while on the road. When you stop at truck stops for meals be mindful as to what you order. Try to eat more proteins from lean meats, vegetables, whole grains, and lentils. Making sure you get enough protein will help you to feel full and not overeat and you will have more energy also.
Reduce Sugar Intake
Sugar intake should also be monitored to help you lose weight. According to Everyday Health, “Registered dietitians and public health officials alike agree sugar consumption is a major cause of weight gain and obesity in the United States, but the link between sugar and weight gain is complex. While natural sugars found in fruits and dairy are healthy as part of whole food, the problem, experts say, is the sugar that’s added to our packaged, processed foods. In addition to containing added sugars, which offer no nutritional value, these foods are usually high in calories and unhealthy fat.” If you have the craving for something sweet opt for fresh or dry fruits. Dates and figs especially are perfect for the sweet tooth. You can also look at health stores for desserts that are sweetened with agave or stevia which will taste good and be good for your body as well.
Studies show that most Americans are not drinking enough water. According to The Quench Survey, “Nearly 80 percent of working Americans say they don’t drink enough water.” Staying hydrated is the key to staying healthy. Our bodies actually depend on water to survive. The human body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove water, and lubricate joints. Staying hydrated can also help us lose weight. Hydration not only boosts our metabolism but also helps us to distinguish between hunger and thirst. We may feel extremely hungry but it might actually be that we are just thirsty. Staying hydrated will ensure that we eat only when we are actually hungry. In addition, studies have proven that drinking a glass of water before a meal can help people avoid overeating and have shown a reduced calorie intake per meal.
It’s essential for drivers’ health and safety to avoid obesity and keep their weight in check. Short periods of regular exercise, eating fresh foods and lean proteins, avoiding sugar, and staying hydrated are the most effective ways for drivers to lose weight even while on the road. With a little cautious decision making and short breaks for 10 to 15 min exercise twice a day it’s definitely possible for drivers to be physically fit even while on the job. Don’t wait until tomorrow, start today and soon you won’t just look great, you will feel great too!