Truck Driver Health

I wanted to add this page to my blog for a long time. Truck driver health has always been a real issue for some of us. There are so many ways for our health to be effected in this job it’s not even funny. Crappy food, lack of exercise, sitting for our long shift everyday, and the list goes on. I ran as a trainer for about 8 years. In that time, the truck rarely stopped and not for long when it did. A real potential for health problems to arise from rolling the truck long hours daily and not getting real good non moving sleep.

The pitfalls of team driving are apparent here, but there are the same kind of pitfalls or problems for a solo driver, it just may take longer. Munching on high salt foods and drinking way to much soda pop can lead to various problems. The coffee I drink by the thermos full brings another type of problem too. Drinks high in caffeine can lead to a higher urination frequency, and thus leads to dehydration. Dehydration can and has lead to constipation, and the downfall cycle continues.

Not being able to eliminate body wastes makes you really ill. It can lead to colon and gastrointestinal problems of all sorts. Body wastes build up, and this causes other body functions to suffer along with you feeling like crap with a headache and no energy of any kind. What you were doing to build up energy has actually worked against you in the long run. You drink way to much coffee, energy drinks and the like. This leads to the frequent urination and dehydration thing I just mentioned. It’s a real bad circle to be caught in.

I use a vitamin program from truckers choice nutritionals. I have been on this for about 10 years now and I do believe that without this supplement I would have real problems. I use the turbo drink and the hammer down products. These products can be purchased at most petro and flying j truck stops. Not an endorsement, just a tip on what I use.

Using a fiber product that you add in powder form to almost any drink can be a real help in keeping your system working as it should. I am really bad at eating chocolate on the road and have some really bad cravings sometimes. I try to fight it, but some days I do give in. I drink a lot of chocolate milk, I use this substitute for eating high salt foods like chips and other bagged munchies.

This may not be the best choice as a substitute for salty foods, but it may be better for me than chips.  I was diagnosed with pre-hypertension and have tried to reduce salt intake and drink more water. I take one aspirin daily to fight potential blood clots from the work that I do sitting long hours.

I want all of you who read my words to not take this literally. I only speak from experience and you should consult your family doctor with your questions on these issues or at least when you are doing your cdl physical, ask the doctor then about any tips or reading materials they may have at the doctors office for you to take home and read. This will help you avoid having the stigma of pre-hypertension on your driver record and avoid a yearly physical instead of two years for normal findings.

Truck stop buffets can be a really good source of nutrition if you eat from the salad bar. I use the Petro’s iron skillet restaurant when I want a good salad. A good assortment of fresh veggies and good lettuce can go a long way to helping you keep your system in tune.

Truck stops are starting to do a better job of providing heart healthy meal choices, some truck stops are trying while others don’t have a good sit-down restaurant and have fast food only. This has been an issue for us a long time, we complain about it and it takes years for some companies that run these places to hear us. I have tried to only park where I can at least have a chance at a different menu choice, but this does not always work.

Bringing along some fiber that you can add to your morning drink can at least give you some chance of adding what you need to your daily diet. We lack so much out here and you have to take steps to replace what is not in your meals that you need to function correctly.

I see when I go into the truck stop many times, drivers who have leg problems, swelling or edema to the lower extremities. This is not good. Purple colors in your legs and swelling so bad some of these folks cannot walk properly. A very bad sign. I see sometimes when I am off duty that I have a small amount of swelling around my ankles. I am over 50 and I need to watch this closely. If I run out of my medicine¬† or have to cut back because of side effects, then this swelling will increase. It’s a balancing act.

There are ways to combat this, but you will have to take steps to keep these types of problems from effecting you. Short walks around the truck stop are good. I see drivers doing this more and more. Wear a bright color if you do walk, we want to see you.

Some drivers pack a small bicycle on the catwalk area. This works fine for some drivers if you have room. I do not, I pull flatbed and my catwalk is packed pretty good. But, this may work for some.

Eat better and try to balance your meals when possible. Use fiber each morning and drink more water.

Reduce or at least try to reduce some of the bad habits that have come along. Yes, smoking would be at the top of the list to stop before it causes damage, but this is a hard one to break.

Eat what you like, but moderation seems to be the key according to folks that have lived to 100 years or more. Taking anything to extreme and eating way more than usual portions or chain smoking can be a problem. I have tried to cut down on all of my bad habits, it has seemed to help.

Add your comments to what you plan to do for the new year. New years resolutions don’t always stick, we either never start or stop long before the goals are met. Make some short term goals for yourself and be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure from that start and use your head when trying to make healthy lifestyle changes.

Jim

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