For any exercise routine to be effective, it must be practiced regularly. We tend to think of travel time as a break from “the norm” and unfortunately apply this mentality to activity and choice of foods. But what how do you stay healthy when your career is to travel? We can all do better and should start today.

Shani Anderson (personal trainer and managing editor of London-based Anderson Fitness Consultants) has the following tips which I’ve modified for the professional driver:

  1. Don’t treat your travel time as a “vacation” from your health regime.  If prior to starting your driving career, you took part in regular activity, don’t stop when you start driving.  Our body is not meant to be inactive and our attitude should be one of finding an alternate source of activity…not a break.  Train your attitude to think of your travel time as work for the company and for your body as well.
  2. Do some research.  Once you have a new load assigned, plan about 20 minutes of activity into your day.  If the weather permits, walk around a bit.  If it’s snowing, make some room in your bunk area to lift weights and a few sets of sit ups and squats.  Jot down on a daily planner your activity time so you can see it and follow through.  No exceptions, no excuses.
  3. Bring portable fitness equipment.  Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a full gym to get a great workout.  Anything from a jump rope, mini bike, tension bands or a set of 20 lb. dumb bells would do fine.  Body weight exercises are tremendously beneficial (push-ups and squats) and require nothing more than your willingness to do them!  Look on YouTube for many great examples of exercises with dumbbells and resistance bands.  Pick one and stick to it for a few weeks then switch to something new.
  4. Don’t overindulge at the buffet.  Limited restaurant options many times lead our professionals to buffet-style restaurants which have truck accessibility.  Many of us fall into the trap of “getting our money’s worth” at the all-you-can-eat locations.  This is a recipe for disaster.  If you must eat there, opt for a single serve option.  When you have the plate in front of you, take your time and chew slowly.  The amount of food restaurants serve is many times a double portion of what our body needs.  Try comparing the size of your fist to the amount of the carbohydrate serving on your plate.  It should be roughly the same size.  The size of your palm is the amount of protein (meat) you can have.  In addition, eat small amounts during the day to prevent the “starving” feeling that leads to overeating.  Snack on a handful of almonds, sliced lean turkey and fresh fruit and veggies throughout the day.  Be prepared.  Do not rely on convenience stores to provide your nutrition, instead, make it your goal to stock your mini fridge with delicious meats and whole grains which will keep you satisfied longer than a bag of crunchy chips.
  5. Take advantage of motel fitness room.  If you stay in a motel for the evening, never pass up the opportunity for a swim, a walk on the treadmill or use whatever they have available to get your pulse going for at least 20 minutes.

The most important takeaway is for you to incorporate exercise into your everyday activities, like brushing your teeth. It doesn’t have to be more than 20 minutes and the payoff is huge. You will feel better physically and mentally as soon as the first day. All habits take time, start with a small one, walk for five minutes each night and then build on that. Small changes yield great gains, be patient.  You can do it!

Over-the-road truck drivers are faced with a unique challenge to have a healthy diet with the monotony of limited choices. Roadside diners, truck stops, convenience stores and fast food establishments offer high calorie, fat and sodium options. This challenge may derail the best intentions of the professional driver when it comes to a healthy diet.

The goal is to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily to balance calories and nutrients when meal choices are limited at best.

What should I eat?

Foods with a high fiber content make you feel full longer and fortunately, these types of foods are often lower in calories and fat. Oatmeal or high fiber cereals and low-fat milk plus fruit are fast, easy options. For lunch, try broth based soups (vegetable or chicken noodle) along with a fresh salad. These are great starters for lunch or dinner because they fill up your stomach and are low in calories. When you eat out, limit creamy sauces and pick baked or grilled meats to cut out fat/calories.

Preparation is the key!

Inevitably, you will get busy and run short on time for a sit down meal. This is why it is crucial to have a well-stocked cab with healthy snack choices. Keep foods on hand that travel well under any conditions; including, apples, oranges, unsalted mixed nuts, whole grain crackers and individual servings of peanut butter. These items provide nutrients, protein and fiber for fullness. In your mini fridge, always keep options which are also high in protein. Select the Greek yogurt variety and mix it with berries. Buy small packages of carrots, celery and cheese sticks. All great options.

Take control of your meals.  

If you make your own meals, you have control over the fat, calorie and salt content. Your mini fridge, a small mini slow cooker and lunchbox cooker can provide you, the professional driver, freedom to store and cook meals by simply plugging into a 12-volt outlet. A small pot roast with red potatoes and baby carrots can be a delicious satisfying meal that cooks while you drive. Use slow cooker liners for easy clean up.

Don’t drink your calories

Eat your calories, never drink them. The calories found in regular soft drinks, sweet tea, sport drinks and juice add up easily and put you over your daily needs. The worst part is that they do nothing to stop those hunger pangs. Amazingly, an extra 100 calories per day can translate to 10 pounds of weight gain annually! Diet drinks (artificially sweetened) may at times trigger cravings for other sweets and foods, it’s better for you to drink water or unsweetened tea or coffee when you’re thirsty.

The professionalism found in your driving must extend into your meal planning to help you stay in the driver’s seat at all times. Happy and healthy journey into wellness!

World-wide within the past three years, terrorists completed 17 vehicle-ramming attacks ending in 173 fatalities and 667 injuries. Last year, high profile attacks gained attention after particularly publicized incidents in France and Israel. May 2017, TSA released an unclassified report warning commercial vehicle users about the dangers of opportunistic terrorists.

Comparatively, in the last three years only four of the 17 documented ramming-vehicle terrorist attacks used a commercial truck. While less common to use a big rig at this time, professional drivers especially know the power of large commercial trucks. Be vigilant regarding your equipment security. Our best practices of avoiding congestion, locking your tractor and trailer as well as using common sense are the best safeguards. Regular safety-conscious basics also include:

  • Park in well-lit lots
  • Plan your route
  • Know your destination, verify identity of receivers per company policy
  • Recognize suspicious behaviors that include perimeter walking, individuals holding cameras or taking notes as well as individuals using vehicles to follow or watch you
  • Ensure security devices are working properly
  • Always take your Revelco or quad lock key when away from the vehicle
  • Verify Abloy lock is attached to trailer and that the seal is intact

Always secure your truck and trailer to protect from theft. Be alert and if you see something unusual, say something-better to report than risk the alternative. When you notice potential “threat indicators” inform local law enforcements and CFI operations.