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FAQ: Trucker Health - Eating, Sleeping, & Exercise

Last Updated: Oct 5, 2016

Health, Sleep, Exercise, & Nutrition - Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be able to get exercise on the road?

Absolutely. There are a million ways to get exercise on the road, both inside and outside the truck. The bottom line is that staying healthy will make you a safer driver.

Is it hard to stay healthy as a truck driver?

Because of the nature of the lifestyle - the long periods of time sitting, the haphazard schedules, and tight time frames, - it does make staying healthy a bit more challenging, but not impossible.

Are there any health problems related to trucking?

The nature of the job requires long periods of sitting, which can lead to all sorts of health issues like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems. Proper nutrition and exercise are key to being a healthy and successful truck driver.

Will I be able to eat healthy on the road?

With a little planning ahead, yes. Most drivers will keep at least a plug-in cooler in their truck, and many have refrigerators, making it easier to stock up and plan healthy meals and snacks.

Can I cook my own meals in the truck?

Yes, absolutely. Many drivers bring crockpots, microwave ovens, hot plates and frying pans, etc. Many drivers will actually cook meals in the crockpot while driving.

Can I install small appliances like microwave ovens and refrigerators in the truck?

It will depend on the policies of the company that you drive for. Many have different rules on inverters, etc., but most will allow it, to some degree.

Do truck drivers deal with a lot of stress on the road?

Incredible amounts of stress, absolutely, especially in the beginning. There are very few experiences that can prepare drivers for the life on the road, so initially everything is new, and dangerous, and hard, and stressful.

Are there any health problems related to trucking?

One of the biggest concerns for truck drivers, because of the long periods of sitting, poor diet, and lack of exercise, is high blood pressure. Other related problems include diabetes, obesity, and sleep apnea.

Is it hard to sleep in the truck?

You get used to it. Most times you'll be so tired when it's time to sleep that it won't be an issue. Many drivers use the same methods they would use at home, such as white noise machines and darkening shades/masks, to help them fall asleep.

Will I be bothered at truck stops while I'm trying to sleep?

Generally, no, not unless you're waiting at a customer or you're parked in somebody else's way.

How can I help myself to stay awake longer while driving?

Generally, if you're tired, get off the road and sleep. Turn off the radio and CB, and the heat, and stop the first chance you have. The more you drive drowsy, the greater the chance of a wreck.

Can I take over-the-counter or prescription "sleep aids" to help me sleep in the truck?

It isn't recommended. Many OTC sleep-aids will contain various ingredients that would fail you should the DOT test you, in addition to whatever your company's restrictions are. Also, many will leave lingering effects that could impair your driving, even the next day.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Hypertension:

Abnormally high blood pressure.

Sleep Apnea:

A physical disorder in which you have pauses in your breathing, or take shallow breaths, during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Normal breathing will usually resume, sometimes with a loud choking sound or snort.

In obstructive sleep apnea, your airways become blocked or collapse during sleep, causing the pauses and shallow breathing.

It is a chronic condition that will require ongoing management. It affects about 18 million people in the U.S.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

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