Driving a truck offers a lot of benefits, but it presents challenges, too. Sitting behind the wheel all day presents special challenges to getting and staying fit. How many of us feel stiff and sore after many hours of staying seated in the same position for hours at a time? Anyone sitting in a sedimentary position for hours at a time for work is at risk of poor health. A study of Canadian truck drivers showed similar results. In any occupation carrying extra weight around could pose health risks, risks like heart disease, for example, but this doesn’t mean if you drive trucks you are doomed.
It’s possible to get fit on the road, and it doesn’t take monumental discipline and effort, either. Small, simple changes can have a big impact. All it takes is the desire to improve your health. Incorporate these 10 tips into your busy lifestyle and you’ll be well on your way to getting and staying fit.
The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn even when you’re sitting behind the wheel. Muscle uses more energy than fat, so increasing the amount of muscle you have can help you look better and burn more calories.
Even if you’re thin but have more fat than muscle, you risk health problems and premature death. Adding more muscle helps you in your daily activities, but it also improves your overall health.
Simple Exercises You Can Do Anywhere: Carry a couple small dumbbells or a kettle ball in your truck. When you stop to rest, take it out and do 10-12 repetitions of these exercises:
- Bicep curls: Grab your weight, stand straight, arch your back (stick your butt out a little) and hold the weight with your arm straight down. The weight should be mid-thigh. Using your arm only (not your back), pull the weight up to chin level and lower it again. Do 10-12 repetitions. Take a 30-second rest and repeat two more times. If it’s too easy, and you are not having a little difficulty raising the weight at the end of the exercise, consider getting a heavier weight.
- Tricep Extensions: Hold a dumbbell in both hands with your arms straight above your head. Keeping your upper arm straight and in that position, bend your arm at the elbow and lower the weights until they reach the base of your neck. Do 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
- Shoulder Fly: Stand straight and hold the weights at your side. Raise both weights straight out to the left and right, respectively, at the same time. You will look like a “T” when your arms are fully extended. Lower the weights back to your side and repeat. Do 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
- Squats: Hold a weight in each hand with your arms down at your side, stand straight, then squat as if you were going to sit on a chair. Try to make your butt parallel with the ground. Stand up. Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
- Lunges: Hold a weight in one hand and stand straight with your arm hanging down at your side. Raise one leg and lunge forward with that leg. Make your thigh parallel to the ground. Step back. Do this 10-12 times, rest for 30-60 seconds and repeat. Do 3 sets.
- Wide Side Crunch: This will work your abdominal muscles without getting down on the ground and doing sit-ups. Stand with your feet a little wider than your shoulders and squat. Arch your back (stick your butt out slightly). Hold a weight in each hand and bend your elbows so that you look like a goalpost. Keeping your back straight, bend to the left and then to the right. Go as far as you can bend without over-straining. Tap your elbow on your thigh, then go back to the middle (still in squat position, though). Do 10-12 repetitions on each side. Rest 30-60 seconds and repeat the whole process two more times.
- Abdominal Crunch: You can do this exercise without getting out of your truck. Simply contract your stomach muscles as hard as you can, hold it for 1-2 minutes, then release. Repeat 10-12 times. You can do this many times throughout the day.
It’s important to move periodically throughout the day instead of doing one 30-minutes exercise session once a day. Even 10-15 minutes of moderate exercise done 2-3 times a day is more beneficial that one daily 30-minute session.
Make Healthier Food Choices: Truck stops are not known for their healthy food choices, but with a little care and consideration, you can make the right food choices on the road without feeling deprived or hungry.
- First, try to increase natural foods and cut down on the processed ones, especially deep-fried foods. You can keep a bag of apples, carrots, broccoli, grapes, or other fruits and vegetables with you at all times. They’re healthy, low-calorie, they don’t need to be refrigerated, and they’re great to grab at a moment’s notice.
- If you want to lose weight, watch your daily macronutrient composition. Macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. There are millions of people everywhere touting hundreds of different diets, but there are many scientific studies showing that a high-protein diet encourages weight loss. Don’t confuse this with the popular high-protein diets that contain a lot of fat. The ideal daily range for weight loss would be around 18% fat, 50% protein, and 32% protein. It’s easy to track your daily nutritional information with free smartphone apps like My Fitness Pal. Simply enter what you eat, and at the end of the day, the app will give you your macronutrient breakdown.
- Watch your drinks. You might be surprised how many calories you consume per day if you regularly drink energy drinks, soda pop, sweetened teas, and other popular ready-made drinks. Replace some of those sugary, calorie-rich drinks with water or unsweetened tea. Since a typical bottled drink often contains 300 calories, you can cut your calorie consumption significantly just by paying attention to what you’re drinking.
You can get fit and healthy even if you spend much of the day behind the wheel of a truck. Simply add in a little weight-bearing exercise when you stop to rest and make healthier food choices. You can do it!