When you live life on the road as a courier, it can be hard to stay healthy. The key here is creativity.
Can you fit in a quick walk while waiting in a loading bay? How about swapping that petrol station sausage roll for a bag of nuts?
Here’s a quick 5-minute stretch routine you can use to stay limber and refreshed, plus more tips on staying physically and mentally healthy on the road: https://bit.ly/3NfFGbw
No yoga mats or Lycra leggings necessary! 😉
Truck drivers travel hundreds of miles every day, coming into contact with many people along the way at truck stops, rest areas, restaurants, and drop-off/pick-up points. Each stop in your day is an opportunity to come into contact with an illness, a norm for courier delivering the same or next day.
Because it’s so important to stay healthy when you’re hundreds or thousands of miles away from home, we’ve put together some tips for how to stay healthy as a truck driver. A healthy courier driver is a safe courier driver.
10 Tips on How to Stay Healthy on the Road
1. Stay Hydrated
Staying well-hydrated is essential to fighting off illnesses. Many illnesses are the result of dehydration, and thirst is a sign of dehydration. When it comes to hydration, nothing is better than water. To ensure you’re drinking enough water, the Mayo Clinic recommends eight glasses of water a day on average. Not only is drinking enough water good for your immune system, but it’s also beneficial for your long-term health
→ Keep a water bottle by your side and fill it up throughout the day so that it is readily available.
2. Eat healthy foods
Eating healthy is a key way to bolster your immune system and to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to stave off infectious diseases. Look for foods high in omega-3, iron, and vitamin C, such as green leafy vegetables, fish, and fruits. Healthy eating habits are essential for boosting your immune system and maintaining your long-term health. Be sure to pack lots of healthy snacks while you’re on the road to make eating healthy easier and more convenient.
Some foods you can include in your diet:
If you get sick, foods like chicken soup, fruits, and electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade, or Pedialyte, can help you feel better.
→ Try adding fruits and vegetables to a smoothie or juice so that it’s easy to take on the go!
3. Take your vitamins
Being on the road all the time can make it a little harder to get all your necessary vitamins and nutrients. Try a multi-vitamin every day to boost your immune system and keep you healthy. Or, you can choose supplements based on what is lacking from your diet.
Getting enough Omega-3 can be tricky, especially if you’re not a fish eater. Still, the benefits of Omega-3 have been shown to prevent or reduce the risk of heart attacks and improve cardiovascular health, which in turn helps to bolster your immune system.
Vitamin D also plays an essential role in strengthening our immune systems. However, getting enough vitamin D through our foods alone can be tricky, especially if you’re on the road all day every day for weeks at a time. Furthermore, vitamin D has been shown to work as a preventative by strengthening our immune system. It has also been shown to be effectiveeven after we are ill, helping individuals recover faster.
→ Talk to your doctor or a nutritionist if you’re not sure which supplements are right for you.
“Taking vitamins and dressing correctly for the weather.”
Drea Otley, 5 years of experience
4. Prioritize sleep
Lack of sleep has been linked to a decrease in our immune response. And as a courier driver, sleep is essential for both your safety and your health. Additionally, a long-term lack of sleep can have a devastating impact on your overall health. It has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and other health issues that can negatively impact courier driver health. Staying well-rested also goes a long way in keeping you alert, not only for hazards on the road but off the road too.
If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep, stress can often be the issue. Try decreasing stress levels by taking time to wind down and relax before bed. Making sure the area where you sleep is a quiet, dark space is also important.
→ At least 7 hours of sleep is recommended, especially for drivers who need to stay alert on the road for long periods of time.
...a long-term lack of sleep can have a devastating impact on your overall health.
5. Exercise regularly
Establishing an exercise routine helps to improve your health and your body’s ability to fight off diseases. It has long been known that exercising helps reduce stress, improve cardiovascular health, and improve our immune system responses. Although it might not be possible to hit the gym when you’re on the road, there are plenty of opportunities to walk, jog, and do other exercises while away from home.
Even a couple of minutes of exercise from time to time can work wonders for staying healthy as a courier driver and avoiding common driver injuries such as drivers knee. 5 minutes of HIIT or a 15-minute walk/jog is a great start.
→ Try adding exercise to parts of your daily routine so that the habit sticks. For example, if you’ll be getting out of your van to use the restroom, add a quick workout before you get back into the truck.
6. Give yourself time to recover
Stay home if you’re sick. If you’re a local courier or a regional courier, this may not be an issue, but what if you’re an OTR driver and you get sick 600 miles from home? If you’re caught driving while sick, you may end up with a ticket, points on your licence and a fine.
So, if you start feeling sick, find a safe place to park, make yourself comfortable, and rest. If you need to go to a doctor, coordinate with your company if they provide health services, or call for a taxi or ride-sharing service to take you to the nearest doctor or A+E department.
→ Drink plenty of clear liquids, eat well, and get better before attempting to complete your run.
7. Avoid stimulants
Stimulants like coffee and energy drinks have been a common source of energy, especially when working, but it’s actually best to avoid them completely. Heavy reliance on these drinks will take a toll on your health, whether that is dehydrating you or giving you only short bursts of energy when what you really need is rest.
Instead, try a gentler, healthier alternative – like green tea. Green tea is rich in antioxidants that help bolster your immune system enabling your body to fight illnesses better. Antioxidants have been shown to help prevent serious diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
→ Choose water or green tea instead of coffee or energy drinks. Take care of your body holistically by getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet instead of relying on stimulants to keep you going.
8. Wash your hands
Before eating, after using the bathroom, after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing, and after touching objects or people, such as shaking a customer’s hand or pumping fuel. When you wash your hands, be sure to use soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
When you don’t have access to soap and running water, hand sanitizer will help reduce the number of germs you’re exposed to. Keep in mind, though, that it’s not as effective as hand washing.
→ Sing “Happy Birthday” twice to make sure you wash your hands long enough.
“Wash your hands any time you go into a truck stop and use a paper towel on your way out to open any doors so the first thing you touch after washing is your van.”
Michael Kasanda, 3 years of experience
9. Cut junk out of your diet
Fast food is often a convenient and readily available option, especially for van drivers. But fatty, calorie-high foods like you often find at fast-food restaurants can cause a lot of health issues in the long term. Try to avoid this and other junk foods like soda out of your diet.
→ Opt for healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, and cheese. Meal plan ahead of time so that you don’t resort to fast food.
10. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
The mucosal membranes in your nose, eyes, and mouth are the favorite entry points for many airborne and surface contact viruses. When you touch your face, rub your eyes, or put food into your mouth with unwashed hands, you are likely to expose yourself to a larger viral load and increase the chances of contracting an illness.
Keep a mask on your van for when you’re ill or if you’re concerned with getting sick. Even after the COVID-19 mask restrictions are lifted, it can go a long way in keeping you healthy. The mask will help you prevent touching your face, and if you’re sick, it will help reduce the likelihood of transmitting the flu and other respiratory illnesses.
11. Stock your first-aid kit
Taking care of your health on the road is super important, and having a well-stocked first-aid kit in your truck can help you stay prepared for any unexpected health issues that may arise. Make sure to include items like pain relievers, antihistamines, and cold and flu medication to help you feel your best.
12. Manage stress
There are several things you can do to manage stress while driving, like taking breaks to stretch and breathe fresh air, listening to your favorite music or podcasts, or practicing meditation or yoga. These activities can help you relax and refocus your mind, making you feel more refreshed and energized.
Talking to a friend or family member can also help reduce stress and provide emotional support while you're on the road. They can offer a listening ear and provide comfort during difficult times.
Another way to manage stress is to take care of yourself physically. This includes eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. When you take care of your body, you're better equipped to handle stress and feel your best.
→ Get into the habit of washing your hands or using hand sanitizer before touching your face.
...with unwashed hands, you are likely to expose yourself to a larger viral load and increase the chances of contracting an illness.
Van Driver Health is Everyone’s Concern
Van driver health is essential to a happier, more productive, and satisfying life for those who dedicate such a large portion of their time to bringing us the things we need. Just as our immune systems are a complex organization of cells and body responses, so too is the trucking industry. As a van driver, you owe it to yourself to drive for someone who has your well-being at heart. The right company can make a big difference in your health when they actively work to reduce your stres
s, give you the room you need to make decisions, and plan around unforeseen occurrences.