Health and wellness…it’s top of mind for the majority of carriers in Canada and the USA today. We’ve all heard the stats and they are not pretty. The trucking industry definitely struggles when it comes to maintaining good health. You don’t have to look far to find an article or blog on the importance, and benefits of introducing a health and wellness program to your fleet.
Industry statistics suggest that the average lifespan of a long haul driver is a shocking 61 years of age! With the average lifespan of an American male being 76, this number is very disturbing. Although there are ongoing debates that this number may be inaccurate, we do know that whatever the true number is, it is still far too low.
So what is it about trucking that causes a shorter life expectancy? Could it be the….
Poor food choices?
Long work hours
Exposure to noise and vibration?
It could be that it’s a combination of all of the above… so why not start to tackle things one issue at a time?
Melodie Champion, Lead Health Coach at Healthy Trucker (www.healthytrucker.com) has this to say about what drivers can do both on and off the road to obtain/maintain good health.
DRINK WATER-Hunger is often confused with dehydration. Even mild dehydration can alter our body’s metabolism, so the goal is to drink eight glasses a day. Studies show people who drink two glasses of water before meals feel fuller and eat less.
EAT CARBS-Replace refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, bagels, cereal, and pretzels with complex carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber which slows digestion and promotes stable blood sugar levels.
CHOOSE HEALTHY FATS-A common misconception is that fats should be completely eliminated. The body utilizes dietary fat for energy, health of hair, skin and nails, vitamin absorption, and normal everyday bodily functions. Good fats promote several health benefits such as protection against heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression, as well as reduced blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Choose sources such as nuts, seeds, fish, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil.
LEAN PROTEIN-Our bodies require protein to continuously renew and replenish our cells, stabilize our blood sugar, and give us energy. Many foods contain protein, but the richest sources include animal products like meat, dairy, eggs, and fish, as well as plant sources like beans, nuts, and seeds.
EAT BREAKFAST-By eating a healthy breakfast, you’ll give your metabolism a jump start and be in better control of your cravings. Studies repeatedly show daily breakfast consumption is associated with maintaining a healthy weight.
EAT MORE FREQUENTLY-It’s important to balance your food intake throughout the day to help maintain normal blood sugar and decrease the chances of binging when hunger strikes. Feeding your body on a regular basis lets it know food is available and it’s okay to burn energy rather than conserve and store it as fat.
EXERCISE YOUR BODY AND MIND-Exercise has enormous benefits for your mind and body with research boasting decreased body weight, smaller waist circumference, lower resting heart rate and blood pressure, and it boosts your mood! Strive to be active at least 30 minutes every day to help keep your body strong and lean.
CATCH SOME ZZZZs-Research suggests that those who sleep five hours or less weigh five pounds more than those getting at least seven hours of shut eye per night. Strive for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
KEEP IT NATURAL-Read labels, and avoid ingredients such as sugar, transfats, high fructose corn syrup, and long names that are hard to pronounce. The healthiest foods are those found just as nature intended – whole and unprocessed.
KEEP A FOOD DIARY-Studies show the act of writing down what you eat and drink tends to make you more aware of what, when, and how much you’re consuming — leading you to ultimately take in fewer calories.
So there ya have it. Yes, even though the cards may be stacked against us when it comes to staying healthy on the road, gaining and maintaining good health is definitely attainable but no one is going to do it for you. Fleets and wellness companies can provide you all the education in the world but it’s up to you to follow through.
One of my favorite sayings that I’m trying to instill in my kid is, “if it is to be, it’s up to me”. Knowing what to do is one thing, but actually following through is another story.
So what about you? Are you ready to start applying some of Melodies suggestions above to improve your overall health? Pick a few and start working on them today and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good you will actually feel in a very short time.
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