Staying Healthy on the Road
Improving Driver Health
Driving a truck can make healthy living a difficult challenge but not impossible. A lack of physical activity and fast food dining can add up to a health risk at any age.
Make Healthy Fast Food Choices
Stick to these simple ground rules:
- Eat a variety of foods in moderate amounts.
- Use less salt on your food.
- Carry seasonings (like Mrs. Dash) in your cab so you can add extra flavor without the extra salt.
- Avoid foods labeled jumbo, giant, and super-sized.
- Larger portions mean more calories. Order a regular or junior portion instead.
- Choose grilled or broiled sandwiches with meats like lean roast beef, turkey or chicken breast.
- Request that special sauces or added dressings be left off your order, and add lots of veggies to the mix.
- Skip the croissant or biscuit in favor of a bun, bread or English muffin.
- Fill up at the salad bar if available, but beware of thick, creamy dressings.
- When eating Mexican food, order bean burritos, soft tacos, fajitas and other items that are not fried.
- Chicken is better than beef, especially with the addition of lettuce, tomatoes and salsa.
- Limit refried beans, and go easy on cheese, sour cream, and guacamole.
- Watch out for fried tortilla shells! A taco salad can have more than 1,000 calories.
- Pizza can be a good choice. Order thin crust pizza with veggie toppings, start with a salad, and limit yourself to one or two slices of pizza.
- Avoid these traps: fat-free muffins with plenty of sugar, skinless fried chicken contains a lot of fat, Chinese food that is deep fried or high in sodium and fat.
Controlling High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure increases your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease, as well as preventing you from passing your Department of Transportation (DOT) physical.
The DOT requirement for blood pressure is 140/90 mm/hg.
To keep your blood pressure under control, try the following tips:
- Talk with your healthcare professional.
- Take any medications as prescribed. If you do not understand how to take the medication, ask questions.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat in heart healthy ways: plenty of fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products.
- Moderate your total fat intake.
- Limit sodium to no more than 2400 mg, or about one teaspoon of salt per day.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. For men, moderate use is two drinks daily, for women, one drink.
- Strive to be active a minimum of 30 minutes every day, with brisk walking or cycling. Two 15 minute periods is fine if you do not have a 30-minute block of time.
- Quit smoking. Smoking increases your risk of stroke, heart disease, peripheral artery disease, and several forms of cancer.
- Avoid caffeine, a stimulant which can raise your blood pressure. Coffee, tea and soda all have large amounts of caffeine.
Exercising on the Road
Check with your doctor before you start an exercise program if you have not been active, or are at risk for heart disease or other chronic health problems.
- Choose activities you enjoy. If you cannot find a place outdoors to walk, stash a few weights in your truck and work out in the cab.
- Carry a jump rope with you. It takes up little space and can be done almost everywhere.
- Make your workout a habit you do daily, or every other day.
- Play music to keep you entertained as you work out.
- Surround yourself with supportive people who will encourage you and keep you motivated.
- Don't overdo it. Many people give up exercise after a few days because they have overworked, sore muscles.
- Reward yourself for your progress, whether it is weight loss or keeping up your new habit.
- Know Heart Attack and Stroke Warning Signs
- Coronary heart disease is America's #1 killer, and stroke is #3.
- Be prepared to help if these symptoms should occur in yourself or someone else.
- Most important: Quickly dial 911. Every second counts in an emergency, so do not wait more than five minutes to call for help. Many people can benefit from medications and treatments unavailable in the past. For example, clot busting drugs can stop some heart attacks or strokes in progress, if given quickly.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks start with discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. You may feel uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Upper body discomfort. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach should all be alerts. Women should note that they may have different symptoms than men, such as less chest pain and more of other symptoms.
- Shortness of breath, which may occur with or without chest discomfort.
- Cold sweat
Stroke Warning Signs
The American Stroke Association states these are the warning signs of stroke:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.