For any exercise routine to be effective, it must be practiced regularly. We tend to think of travel time as a break from “the norm” and unfortunately apply this mentality to activity and choice of foods. But what how do you stay healthy when your career is to travel? We can all do better and should start today.
Shani Anderson (personal trainer and managing editor of London-based Anderson Fitness Consultants) has the following tips which I’ve modified for the professional driver:
- Don’t treat your travel time as a “vacation” from your health regime. If prior to starting your driving career, you took part in regular activity, don’t stop when you start driving. Our body is not meant to be inactive and our attitude should be one of finding an alternate source of activity…not a break. Train your attitude to think of your travel time as work for the company and for your body as well.
- Do some research. Once you have a new load assigned, plan about 20 minutes of activity into your day. If the weather permits, walk around a bit. If it’s snowing, make some room in your bunk area to lift weights and a few sets of sit ups and squats. Jot down on a daily planner your activity time so you can see it and follow through. No exceptions, no excuses.
- Bring portable fitness equipment. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a full gym to get a great workout. Anything from a jump rope, mini bike, tension bands or a set of 20 lb. dumb bells would do fine. Body weight exercises are tremendously beneficial (push-ups and squats) and require nothing more than your willingness to do them! Look on YouTube for many great examples of exercises with dumbbells and resistance bands. Pick one and stick to it for a few weeks then switch to something new.
- Don’t overindulge at the buffet. Limited restaurant options many times lead our professionals to buffet-style restaurants which have truck accessibility. Many of us fall into the trap of “getting our money’s worth” at the all-you-can-eat locations. This is a recipe for disaster. If you must eat there, opt for a single serve option. When you have the plate in front of you, take your time and chew slowly. The amount of food restaurants serve is many times a double portion of what our body needs. Try comparing the size of your fist to the amount of the carbohydrate serving on your plate. It should be roughly the same size. The size of your palm is the amount of protein (meat) you can have. In addition, eat small amounts during the day to prevent the “starving” feeling that leads to overeating. Snack on a handful of almonds, sliced lean turkey and fresh fruit and veggies throughout the day. Be prepared. Do not rely on convenience stores to provide your nutrition, instead, make it your goal to stock your mini fridge with delicious meats and whole grains which will keep you satisfied longer than a bag of crunchy chips.
- Take advantage of motel fitness room. If you stay in a motel for the evening, never pass up the opportunity for a swim, a walk on the treadmill or use whatever they have available to get your pulse going for at least 20 minutes.
The most important takeaway is for you to incorporate exercise into your everyday activities, like brushing your teeth. It doesn’t have to be more than 20 minutes and the payoff is huge. You will feel better physically and mentally as soon as the first day. All habits take time, start with a small one, walk for five minutes each night and then build on that. Small changes yield great gains, be patient. You can do it!