Q: What 3 changes should a driver make first, in order to improve their health?
A: This is a good question, because I like the focus on wanting to just create a few new healthy habits, rather than a total lifestyle overhaul all at once. Changing 1-3 habits at a time is how I work with most clients, and they see great success this way.
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t the same for everyone! It will depend on a drivers lifestyle, schedule, current eating habits, sleep, and exercise routine. That said, I can give a list of several things that may apply to you, and you can decide what things would make the biggest difference in your health. Here are some great starting points, from which you can choose 2 or 3 things to change or work on:
- Eat more whole, nutrient-dense foods, and less processed foods. This includes more fruits and vegetables, and high-quality meats and animal products. This can be done by preparing more of your own food in the truck, bringing meals made at home, or looking for food that is less processed in truck stops and restaurants. Learn more about cutting back on processed foods here.
- Drink more health-promoting liquids. A coffee or two a day doesn’t hurt, but try to get plenty of water, fresh juices, or broths to keep yourself hydrated and your electrolyte levels balanced. We’ve written more on this here. This also means limiting drinks that harm your health, including soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, and juice “cocktails” that aren’t made from real juice.
- Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily: this will ensure you are getting enough calories to support a strong metabolism, which is something many truck drivers struggle with due to their schedules and availability of food. You can read more about that here.
- Engage in low-stress, functional movement, such as walking, stretching, and strength training for at least 150 minutes per week (30 minutes 5x/week). Drivers often have a sedentary lifestyle, but are also prone to repetitive strain injuries due to repetitive movements through their day; working on strength, flexibility, and balance will help prevent the aches, pains, and injuries that often come with years in the profession. This is a broad answer for the purpose of this post, because we want exercise to be enjoyable, which means you can decide what makes you feel good and what will help you reach your goals. We go more in depth into exercise in other areas of our program and challenges.
- Get plenty of good quality sleep and rest! This means getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night whenever possible, napping if needed, and allowing the body to rest and recover when tired or sore by not doing too much strenuous exercise or activity. Struggling to get a good sleep each night? Read some tips here.
Now remember, you don’t need to be doing all of these things at once. I recommend comparing them all against your current lifestyle, and decide what would make the biggest changes to the way you feel and to your health, and start with 2-3 habits. Once you feel those habits are well-implemented into your routine, you can add in others, or look at more specific areas you need to improve based on your current health and goals.