Health Tips & Exercises For Truckers When Driving
Federal regulators shortened the maximum numbers of hours truckers could drive per week from 82 to 70 in July. Despite the new rule, truckers still spend a nearly half of their waking hours every week behind the wheels of their rigs. While truckers across the country burn a total of 52 billion gallons of diesel per year, very few of them are burning calories or tightening muscles in the process.
The Journal of the American Diabetic Association estimated in 2007, that 86 percent of the 3.2 million truckers in the U.S. were obese. Nearly all trucking companies have extremely lax standards when it comes to physically screening drivers to determine whether they are healthy enough to safely operate an 80,000 pound vehicle.
Photo by Flickr user John Picken
How Truckers Can Stay Healthy
Truckers in general are notorious for eating junk food, mainly out of sheer convenience. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that childhood obesity is caused more by the junk food ads kids see on TV, as opposed to the actual sitting all day. Truckers, similarly, see junk food billboards while driving, and rows of candy and cakes every time they stop for fuel or rest.
It can be difficult for truckers to find time to go to the doctor while on the road. They work long hours, are sedentary for most of the day and aren’t often in the same place for long. However, keeping track of health and getting enough exercise is important. Technology plays a big role in healthcare on the road. Truckers can access doctors through sites like MeMD. Professional and trustworthy doctors can help treat truckers online for general health problems related to obesity, fatigue or any other illness or ailment they may experience.
Accessing healthcare professionals online can help keep truckers safe and healthy, but there are still ways truck drivers can prevent getting sick in the first place. Carrying a cooler with healthy food is a better option than fast food and truck stops. Drinking lots of water and getting enough rest is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Truckers still have little time to exercise and burn a few calories off, but here are a few exercises drivers can do while sitting behind the wheel.
Easy Exercises for Truck Drivers
This tummy-flattening exercise is usually done while lying on your back, but is just as effective when done while sitting upright in a vehicle. Relax your shoulders and keep your back straight. Simply breathe like you normally do, but with every inhale, use your abdominal muscle to suck in your belly button while simultaneously contracting your Kegel muscles (the ones you use to try and stop urinating). Hold the position for as long as you feel comfortable, exhale and repeat.
This is another abdominal exercise you can do immediately after your sets of hollowing. While keeping your feet flat and forward, tighten your abdominals. While continuing to face forward, slowly twist your upper body to the left, then to the right. The key to this exercise is making sure your abs are contracted the entire time. You will strengthen not only your obliques (the “love handles” area), but your entire core.
This exercise can be done when you’re on a stretch of highway while cruise-control can be used, so your feet and legs are free. Space your feet a shoulder width apart, and arch your heals off the floor as high as you can comfortably go. You can either continue this in sets by lowering and raising, or do an isometric exercise by raising and holding the positions for 30 seconds or more. Either way, you will be strengthening and toning your lower legs, while also getting your heart rate up. You can add ankle weights to make the exercise more difficult and thus, more effective.
Drivers can also purchases an inexpensive pair of dumbbells and do bicep curls and tricep extensions while pulled over and resting. Being a trucker is no excuse to be out of shape. Its simply a matter of motivation.
A Long Island native, Jason is a personal trainer who blogs about fitness and well-being for a variety of sites.