Drivers are essential to PAM and to our customers, who rely on us to keep America moving. But without the right healthy habits, drivers don’t have the fuel they need to fend off illness and fatigue. Here are just a few ways to safeguard yourself on and off the road.
Feed Your Immune System
Like many drivers, you’re probably looking for ways to protect your health and your livelihood from the ever-present coronavirus threat. The virus tends to strike those with underlying health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or obesity, according to CDC findings shared in a recent USA Today report. Obesity is related to chronic inflammation, which can weaken the body’s immune system and increase the risk of hospitalization or even death.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take a crash diet of water and bean sprouts to lose weight. But there are plenty of tasty, healthy food options that can help you shed those pounds over time, and boost your immune system in the process. You may want to start with ditching those salty, fat-loaded bags of chips in lieu of immune-boosting snack options.
Here are a few ideas from Healthline to get you started:
- Red bell peppers: In addition to adding more flavor to your stir fry or grill, red bell peppers are loaded with vitamin C and beta carotene (vitamin A).
- Citrus fruits: Not a bell pepper fan? Oranges and clementines make a convenient on-the-road snack while providing your daily vitamin C.
- Broccoli: A bag of broccoli florets also make a great travel snack, and are packed with vitamins A, C, E, and other antioxidants.
- Nuts & seeds: If broccoli is not your bag, almonds and sunflower seeds are a great way to get your vitamin E and other nutrients like magnesium.
- Yogurt: Low-fat yogurt is another convenient road snack and is a great source of vitamin D, which has been found to help our bodies fend off disease.
Boost Your Health Arsenal
A healthy diet is a great way to boost the immune system, but it takes a full arsenal of healthy habits to protect your body from illnesses and viruses. Harvard Health Publishing suggests incremental changes in our daily lifestyle to increase the ability to fight disease.
Just a few immune-boosting activities include:
- Quitting smoking
- Getting enough sleep
- Trying to reduce your stress
- Exercising regularly
Of course, exercising and reducing your stress is easier said than done when you’re behind the wheel for several days at a time. But even OTR drivers can make time for regular exercise, which in turn can reduce stress.
Start Moving and Stay Moving
There have been numerous health studies that indicate exercise can boost your immune system and reduce your risk of infections. Even simple walking can be especially beneficial for drivers to counter the effects of extended road travel. What’s more, you don’t have to do it every day to reap significant health benefits.
Not sure where to start? There are numerous websites with exercise ideas that don’t require special equipment or training. Or, you can join a Facebook trucker support group, like the Healthy Trucker.
Here are five exercises to get you started:
- Front bends: Place your hands on your hips, behind your back. Next, lean forward and hold for 5 to 10 seconds and complete 5 reps. This will help loosen up your hamstrings and increase leg circulation.
- Back bends: Put your hands on your hips, behind your back. Next, lean back and hold for 5 to 10 seconds and complete 5 reps. This should help decompress your spine.
- Side bends: Put your hands to your sides, then stretch one hand up and reach to the side for 5 to 10 seconds. Then do it with the other hand and complete 5 reps. This should help lengthen your torso muscles and stretch your outer hip muscles.
- Neck stretch: Place one hand to your side, stretch the other out 90 degrees, and then lean your head to the opposite side. Using your outstretched arm, reach out as far as you can and move your neck as far as you can the opposite way. Do this for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat with the other arm. Complete 5 reps. This should help relieve tension in the shoulders and neck.
- Knees up: Find a wall or use the side of your truck for support. Place your hands apart, just outside of shoulder width, and bring each knee up, one at a time, turning it to the side and taking it across your body for 30 to 60 seconds. This should help loosen and strengthen your glutes and stretch your pelvis.
Wash Away the Germs
As a driver, you’re already well-aware of the importance of washing your hands to stay healthy and protect against the coronavirus. But many people don’t wash their hands long enough to sufficiently prevent germ contamination.
The CDC recommends five steps for proper hand washing:
- Wet your hands first with clean, running water (hot or cold) and apply soap
- Rub the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails
- Continue to scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds
- Rinse your hands under clean, running water
- Dry your hands on a clean towel or air dry them
Note that hand sanitizer should not be considered a substitute for proper hand washing. It’s a good idea to keep bottled water, soap, and clean towels that are accessible while on the road.
When should you clean your hands? The CDC recommends:
- After using the restroom
- After putting on, touching, or removing cloth face coverings
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- Before eating or preparing food
- Before entering and leaving your cab, including deliveries, loading and unloading cargo, rest breaks, fueling, and other activities
You should avoid touching your face as much as possible, especially if you don’t have the opportunity to wash your hands often. Check the CDC website for other ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered advice or direction to participate in any specific diet or exercise program. PAM Transport recommends that readers seek advice from a licensed medical professional before beginning any diet or exercise program.