5 tips to boost your health and wellbeing
Let’s be honest. The transport industry isn’t for everyone. With long hours, a lot of time sitting down, and delicious on-the-go food, it’s easy to fall into habits that will see your engine running at less than full speed.
Registered dietitian Sarah Percy shared some tips on how small changes can be incorporated into daily life to help combat some of the challenges of truck driver life.
Everything in moderation. This isn’t about never eating a pie ever again (a somewhat unrealistic expectation, especially when they’re soo darn good!). But more about thinking about food as fuel and asking yourself, “What is this doing for my body and nutrition?”
Good nutrition will:
- Reduce fatigue levels by stabilising blood sugars. When people are fatigued, that’s when accidents are more likely to happen.
- Strengthen our immune system
- Boost energy levels
- Increase concentration
- Help reduce the risk of a raft of conditions like heart disease, stroke and more.
1. Prepare your fuel
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. It might seem obvious but in order to help ourselves eat well, we need to be prepared. If we have good, easy food choices on hand we don’t rely on grabbing things on the go.
Start the day with a hearty, protein-packed meal. Eggs, grainy toast, baked bean and cheese toastie, the list goes on. This will help stabilise your blood sugar and set you up with good energy levels.
Don’t focus on what you can’t have; instead, look at what you can add to your diet that will nourish you and help you feel good. Add in some extra protein sources or some extra veggies to your go-to meal.
Tip: Spend some time once or a few times a week pre-preparing a bunch of healthy (and yummy) snacks you can take on the road with you.
2. H20 on the go
Think of your body like a sponge. When a sponge is dehydrated, it shrinks and does a piss-poor job of cleaning the bench top.
It’s the same for our cells. Shrunken cells impair concentration and performance. Often, by the time we ‘feel thirsty’, it’s too late, and we’re already dehydrated.
We’re not suggesting you jump on the current Stanley Cup trend (there are plenty of cheaper, just as good alternatives out there!), but get yourself some large water bottles to take with you on the road.
Tip: Pop one bottle in the fridge and one in the freezer. The next morning you’ll have cool water to drink, and by the time you reach for the second, it should have defrosted but still cool.
3. I like to move it, move it
Our bodies aren’t designed to sit for long periods of time, but in today’s world, it’s unavoidable. And not everyone has the time or wants to join a gym.
The solution? Microbreaks.
These could be during a toilet stop or while waiting for a load. Go for a short walk, do 10 jumping jacks or maybe a bit of a dance break is more your style. The type of movement isn’t important; it’s simply moving your body.
Think about ways you could build some non-structured exercise into your day. This could be playing ball with your kids, walking instead of driving to the dairy or making dance-offs after dinner a regular thing.
Tip: Focus simply on moving more, rather than thinking, “I need to exercise more”; it’ll be more fun and easier to stick to.
4. Night night, sleepyhead
Often, the quality of our waking performance is defined by the quality of our sleep. A lack of sleep can cause stress, mood shifts, and irritability and also have effects on our immunity and weight.
Everyone has different sleep needs, with the general rule of thumb being somewhere between 7 and 9 hours each night.
Tip: If you are having trouble falling asleep or feeling like you aren’t getting quality sleep, book an appointment with your doctor.
5. Mental health
The nature of truck driving exposes you to numerous factors which can negatively impact your mental health. The long hours, loneliness, lack of exercise and poor diet are just some of these factors that contribute to mental health issues for thousands of truck drivers around the country.
Tip: If you or anyone around you seems like they’re struggling, reach out to friends and family and seek expert advice and guidance. Some great resources can be found here.