Christmas, New Year’s Eve, the calm time in between – this often also means: festive and sumptuous meals with little physical activity. At the start of the new year, many want to get back into shape. For people who, like truck drivers, have a sedentary job, physical activity and a balanced diet are especially important. We provide tips for fitness in the driver’s cab.
Health-conscious Lifestyle: Challenge for Truck Drivers
People who are constantly on the road, have to sit for long stretches of time, work inflexible hours, and have to rely on self-catering or service areas have limited opportunities to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The problem is that due to their sedentary work, truck drivers are particularly susceptible to health issues such as back problems or obesity – along with the possible secondary diseases. In the case of back problems, the first decisive factor is proper sitting in the truck, i.e., on individually adjustable, ergonomically designed driver seats. Equally important are exercise to balance out the constant sitting and a conscious diet.
Whole-food Nutrition – the Basis of Health
Eating and drinking wholesome food and beverages keeps you healthy and promotes the performance and well-being of everyone, whether a truck driver or not. In concrete terms, this means:
- a varied diet with mainly plant-based foods and plenty of vegetables and fruit per day
- preference for whole grain products when it comes to cereals
- milk and dairy products on a daily basis, but only moderate meat consumption (recommendation: less than 600 grams per week)
- reduce fat: processed foods in particular, such as sausages, ready meals, or fast food, usually have a lot of fat
- reduce sugar: for example, drink unsweetened teas or water instead of sweetened drinks
- take your time when eating and ensure you have enough breaks
Healthy Eating Can Be Demanding Behind the Wheel
Let’s be honest: Who follows such advice all the time? Often not even those who have shopping facilities close to their workplace or can plan their working day flexibly enough to always have enough time for long lunch breaks. For truck drivers, it is much more difficult to focus on nutrition. Nevertheless, it is possible to choose fruits and vegetables for snacks and to order a vegetable stew at the service station more often than a burger or a schnitzel with fries.
A wholesome breakfast is a perfect way to start the day, and healthy snacks every three hours can prevent food cravings in the evening. In addition, regardless of meals, adequate rest is essential for truck drivers to maintain good health.
Always keep in mind – a healthy driver is a safe driver.
Natalia Janiszewska Spokeswoman Truckers Life Foundation
Exercise Inside and Outside the Driver’s Cab
Getting enough exercise: again, this is much more demanding for truck drivers than for workers with flexitime or similar conveniences of modern working life. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults get at least 21 minutes of mildly strenuous exercise per day – such as climbing stairs – or at least 75 to 150 minutes of sport activity per week. These are minimum recommendations, mind you. You might do a little more to prevent health problems.
Exercises in the Driver’s Cab
In traffic jams or while waiting to be loaded or unloaded: even short periods of time can be used for a targeted short workout. For example, with these exercises:
- Rotating shoulders: With your upper body upright and your abdomen tense, place your hands on your shoulders. Now circle your elbows ten times forward and ten times backward. This relaxes the muscles and prevents tension in the shoulder area.
- Stretch exercise 1: While sitting up straight, the left shoulder is pressed down. At the same time, the head is tilted forward to the right and the right hand is placed on the head. After about 30 seconds switch sides.
- Stretch exercise 2: The chest is pushed forward and both arms are stretched to the side. Now simultaneously lower the shoulders and bring the back of the head up. Finally, lower the upper body and let the head hang, with the arms resting loosely on the legs or on the steering wheel. Repeat the entire exercise about five times.
- Strengthen the Muscles in the Shoulders and Chest: Stretch your arms straight forward into the steering wheel with your palms facing inward. Now press forcefully outward against the steering wheel, exhale, and count to five. Then press against the steering wheel from the outside. Repeat both directions about five times each.
Mandatory for Truck Drivers: Taking a Break
During breaks or after work in the rest area, you obviously have other fitness options. For instance, in outdoor gyms set up by the Truckers Life foundation for professional drivers. On the foundation’s website you can find a map with more than 100 fitness facilities in Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania. But even without special fitness equipment, you can spend breaks or begin the after-work time actively.
Good corrective exercises that require little or no equipment and do not take much time are:
- rope skipping
- stretching exercises that involve the vehicle, such as propping yourself up against the side of the vehicle with your forearms or a foot
Drivers’ Health is a Priority at DHL Freight
Anyone moving a lot of goods for others, like our truck drivers, should not forget to keep themselves in motion as well. DHL Freight wants to support its drivers to do just that. We also actively promote the mental health of our drivers and, as a mindful employer, want to provide our shift workers with the best possible working environment. For the common goal of getting freight to its destination for our customers safely, quickly, and sustainably.