Anyone working for haulage companies as a long-distance lorry driver knows just how easy it can be to neglect one's health. With the plethora of fast food on offer, the temptation is simply to pull over to road services, grab something fast and fatty and keep driving. Combined with the largely sedentary nature of the job, it doesn't take long to fall into bad habits and suffer health consequences. The good news is that working for haulage companies and maintaining good health don't need to be mutually exclusive.
Good Food, Good Sense
In a perfect world, every time we head out on the road for a long-distance stint we'd have a perfectly packed supply of salad, veggies and steamed chicken in our lorry's state-of-the-art fridge. In the real world, unless you work for one of the haulage companies with a new fleet of vehicles, you're probably more likely to have your kid's cast-off Thomas the Tank Engine lunch box at your disposal. But packing healthy snacks is as easy as packing unhealthy ones, so instead of chocolate and crisps, keep a supply of popcorn, vacuum-packed cheese and crackers, pretzels and fresh fruit in your cab to satisfy cravings.
We all feel the lure of the golden arches that loom along the motorways, but there are alternatives. When you do stop to eat at a fast-food restaurant, make choices such as lean meat, or opt for other low-sodium and low-fat meals. Use low-fat salad dressings over creamy ones and, if it's a buffet-style eatery, try the trick of using a smaller plate to control portion sizes. Most places do have healthy items – all it takes is a shift in your mindset to make those choices.
Move It, Don’t Lose It
Think you can't exercise while you're on the road? Think again. There are myriad ways that small actions can make big differences. Walk or jog around a rest area; take a jump rope with you and start a trend (which is guaranteed to raise a smile, but you'll have the last laugh!); use a pedometer and challenge yourself to 10,000 steps a day; park further away and do a few laps around your lorry at intervals; and use resistance bands or weights for a few side-of-the-road exercises to keep you supple.
As well as getting into a daily habit of moving more with the methods above, there are numerous online resources that can help improve your health and wellbeing via structured programmes. They are good fun, don’t require any special equipment and are delivered via podcasts and videos that are easily accessible while you're on the road. It doesn't get better than that!
Keep Calm and Drive On
While it’s important to eat healthily and stay active, it’s equally important to take care of your mind. There are plenty of relaxation techniques to keep you calm so that you can indeed carry on driving those long distances and keep stress at bay. While, again, there are many online resources to help, some simple changes that you can make while on the road are practising yoga and meditation on your breaks, getting a massage, listening to calming music, trying progressive muscle relaxation to aid sleep, and using visualisation techniquesto help you wind down and quiet your mind.
Stay Healthy in Mind, Body and Spirit
For lorry drivers, keeping healthy is not just about what you eat, but also about exercising and attending to your mental state. Taking this holistic approach to life on the road will make your path to healthy and happy living a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage companies with jobs in road transport and haulage work. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.