Truck drivers are one of the most likely groups of workers to become obese. One of the reasons is obvious: truck drivers spend hours sitting, without taking a chance to burn excess calories.
If you’re a truck driver, you can do something to avoid gaining weight. Every time you make a pit stop, do a short exercise routine. This will help you burn calories and keep your energy levels high. And remember, when you exercise regularly and build muscle, your body burns more calories during the day, even after you’re done exercising.
You might think exercising at gas stations and truck stops will make you feel silly, but actually, people will respect you and even admire you for trying to stay healthy on the road. Here are some ideas for short exercises you can do anywhere:
You can gain muscle with weights, even if you don’t have time to go to the gym. And when you build more muscle, you burn more calories throughout the day.
Start with 5- or 10-pound weights and move up from there. There are plenty of exercises you can perform with weights. One is the shoulder press, which involves standing straight and lifting the weights up above the shoulders. It’s simple, but it works the trapezius and triceps.
Another exercise is the lateral raise. Stand with your hands hanging down, and then lift them out to the sides just below shoulder level. This should work the deltoids, forearms, and traps.
Finally, try the preacher curl. Stand or sit with your hands hanging down. Then, curl your arms up toward your shoulders. This targets your biceps and brachialis.
Jump roping is not just for school children. With jump roping, you can burn 200 calories in two 10-minute sessions—that’s 73 grams (2.5 ounces) of French fries or most of a glazed doughnut.
Just make sure that your jump roping workout is far from casual. Really push yourself. Try different variations, like jumping with one foot at a time or jumping especially high.
You’ve probably done this exercise before, but you may not have tried all the interesting variations. Try crossing your legs each time you do a jumping jack, or alternating your legs backward and forward. You can even squat while you do jumping jacks—just squat down every time your arms come up.
Now here’s an exercise where you’re guaranteed to look cool. Look even cooler by trying different variations. Try one arm behind your back, spread your hands wider than usual, or lift one leg off the ground.
If you don’t have a good place to do push-ups, try push-ups against the wall at the gas station.
Imagine a personal trainer is shouting at you to get those knees up as you lift them in quick succession. Listen to some inspiring music on your headphones to really get pumped up.
You’ll need a grassy spot to lie down, but this simple exercise can be modified so much that it never gets old. Here are just a few ideas:
- As you crunch, bend your knees and move your legs back and forth like you’re riding a bicycle.
- Lift your legs straight in the air. As you crunch, move your legs toward you.
- Each time you sit up, lift your weights in the air.
- Lift your knees parallel to the floor and place a weighted object (like a ball) on them. Sit up, reaching your arms forward.
- As you crunch, reach one arm in the air, aiming it toward the opposite knee. Then switch arms at the next crunch.
Stay Healthy on the Road
Don’t spend your break time off the road sitting and veg’ing. Instead, add a short workout routine and burn more calories all day long!
You travel long hours on the road. After about a half of a shift, the long, gray ribbon of highway seems to stretch forever. You’re zoned out. Or, worse, your mind is too cluttered.
It’s the 21st century. You don’t need to click on the radio and listen to crappy, regional stations. You have better options. Smart phones, MP3 players, iPods, and satellite radio let you stay stimulated throughout your long hours on the road.
To keep yourself focused, consider listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks. World-famous Dutch psychologist Ayça Berfu Ünal studied the effects of listening to music while driving. She found that the driver retained better focus than if he or she listened to silence. She also found that it didn’t matter which kind of music or audio entertainment the driver chose. Every form of audio stimulation, from listening to the news to loud music, improved the driver’s focus.
What Is It About Auditory Stimulation?
Ünal’s study started with the common misconception that motorists get distracted by music, news, and the radio; and therefore, they ignore traffic regulations and drive less responsibly. She asked the study’s participants to drive long, monotonous stretches behind other cars, both without and with music.
Without music, the participants became bored, then agitated, then less focused. With music, the participants retained enough external stimulation to stay alert and prevent boredom.
Have You Tried Podcasts?
Podcasts are like a radio show that you can download or access via your smartphone. They’ve grow immensely in popularity in the United States over the past five years. Why? Just as Netflix users want to watch shows when they have time, podcast fans want to listen to shows when it’s convenient. Long roadtrips are ideal for podcast listening. There’s only so much music one can listen to before you want to laugh or learn.
Not sure where to begin? Not to worry. We offer you a list of beloved podcasts to get you started before your next cross-country shift:
Good Job, Brain!
When you travel as much as a truck driver does, you learn a lot of potentially useless trivia. This show puts all those miscellaneous facts to use. The hour-long program kicks off with questions from Trivial Pursuit, then seeks to educate you on random fun facts.
America’s Test Kitchen
If you like food, you’ll love Christopher Kimball’s podcast. It spreads expert information about food, wine, restaurants, and chefs. You can call in with questions, get new recipes, and listen to interviews with food experts.
Okay, you’ve heard of this one. The MIT-educated, Italian-American sibling car experts Tom and Ray Magliozzi not only will teach you more about how your truck should run, but they will make you bust a gut laughing while they do it.
Here’s the Thing
You may know Alec Baldwin from films like “The Hunt for Red October,” or shows like “30 Rock.” On this WNYC program, he has a different role. He interviews musicians, artists, politicians, and other interesting people, and gets them to open up in an intimate, one-on-one environment.
New York Times Book Review
Readily considered the world’s best determiner of what’s a good book, the New York Times Book Review can guide to a great story.
For a longer-term option, try a book. When you’re driving, you don’t have time to read. Or do you? Audiobooks create an opportunity for you to catch up on new and interesting books, without you needing to stare at the pages or a Kindle.
For more tips about how to stay focused and enjoy your job as a truck driver, choose a compassionate, locally-based employer.
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show a slow-but-steady increase in deaths and injuries resulting from large truck accidents each year. Deaths reached almost 4,000 in 2012, while injuries topped 100,000 the same year.
The number of fatalities and injuries inversely correlates to the number of large trucks in accidents. In other words, fewer trucks each year are causing more deaths and injuries. Why? Bigger trucks are 20 percent more likely to cause multiple-vehicle accidents than single-vehicle accidents. They also are three times more likely to be rear-ended than any other kind of vehicle. Texas leads the nation in fatalities caused by truck accidents, followed by California and Florida.
Truckers face dangers themselves. Their job is not an easy one. Stress, fumes, and back pain can diminish their health. Perhaps more than anything, truckers battle crippling fatigue. They spend long hours trekking across the country and need to stay sharp the entire time.
Here’s how you can stay safe while driving a truck—for yourself and for others on the road.
Prevent Accidents Before They Happen
There are three major types of truck accidents: rollovers, jackknifes, and collisions. They are all preventable if you understand how they occur and how you can stop them.
Rollovers happen when the driver turns suddenly and the truck flips on its side. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates nearly 80 percent of rollovers stem from driver error. However, the truck’s design and load are also factors. Preventing a rollover starts with appropriate speed management. Sudden turns at high speed are the ingredients for disaster.
You can stop a rollover if you:
- Avoid drastic movements on straightaways and turns.
- Always look ahead for risky areas on the road.
- Stay aware.
When a truck’s wheels lose traction, it causes jackknifing. The load ratchets forward and may also fold over onto the truck itself. Any cars can be swept up and crushed against the truck, or just tossed forward at high speeds. Jackknifing typically occurs in a truck with an empty cargo load.
Drivers can prevent a truck from jackknifing if they:
- Watch for cargo load swing.
- Install anti-lock brakes.
- Start breaking well before a turn begins.
Underride collisions and rear-ending are among the most common kinds of truck accidents. Blind spots are often the root of the problem. You probably have seen a sign on the back of a semi saying, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you.” That is the truth. Passenger car drivers weave through traffic. Sometimes these drivers don’t even realize they are changing lanes unnoticed by the driver of the semi ahead of them. Even at low speeds, a quick stop can be deadly.
Prevent underride collisions and rear-ending with the following steps:
- Minimize lane changing.
- Check mirrors every 5 seconds.
- Clean taillights.
Even the best semi-truck drivers in the world need passenger car drivers to be safe in order to prevent accidents. Truck drivers can only control their load—and their own bodies. While often not discussed, fatigue causes a great deal of poor driving. You should not hesitate to stop and nap if you are tired. Driving with a partner also holds you accountable and keeps you awake. Make sure to eat regularly, stay hydrated, and if necessary, drink caffeine to keep your eyes open.
Learn a Few More Helpful Tips
Accidents don’t occur in a vacuum. It takes a combination of factors, such as bad weather, high speeds, sudden braking, and lack of signaling.
Always make sure to:
- Bring chains for tires.
- Reduce speed during bad weather.
- Signal early if the upcoming turn will cause drift.
Don’t become a statistic. Following these simple steps can prevent disaster.
Truckers see a lot of bad behavior on the roads and interstates of our great nation—and not just what drivers are doing on the road. Sitting high up in the cab of an 18-wheeler, we get a pretty good view of what other drivers are doing inside their cars too. And frankly, it’s just plain scary.
So truckers, watch out for these five driving disasters when you’re out on the road.
1. The Texter
Since the advent of the mobile phone, this has been the number-one most dangerous thing people do on the road. Everyone seems to have a smartphone, even young drivers who just received their licenses, and that means everybody is tempted to use it. Thank goodness that many states now have made texting while driving illegal and a reason to pull someone over. Move over, and let this driver pass you by.
2. The Impatient Driver
You all know this guy. He’s the speeder, the abrupt lane changer, the tailgating horn-honker, and the guy who passes on the right. He’s the one who is trying to get around you on a one-way highway with heavy oncoming traffic. The guy who knows the rules of the road but doesn’t think they apply to him. Just stay to the right and hope he finds a way to get past you fast—because he is never going to change his ways.
3. The Hungry Man (or Woman)
He’s so famished he cannot wait. He may be within a mile of a sit-down restaurant, or minutes from a home-cooked dinner at the table with family, but no. He prefers to drive with his knees, holding a 44 oz. soda in one hand and digging through a greasy bucket of chicken with the other. Trust us, this is not the way to merge onto the freeway. Stay clear of this distracted driver. If something happens where he needs to abruptly grab the steering wheel, his meal won’t be “finger-lickin’ good” for long.
4. The Oblivious Driver
These are the ones that are ignorant of the rules of the road. They don’t check their mirrors or pay attention as they should, so they are not aware of anything going on from behind or in the lanes beside them. They may be rocking out to their playlist and are unaware they have had their blinkers on for the last 25 miles. They drive under the speed limit in the fast lane, maintain a steady speed in your blind spot, or pass in the slow lane.
Not all drivers understand that truckers have a much bigger blind spot and, thus, a much harder time seeing cars. Remain in the far right lane, so oblivious drivers can pass on.
5. The Overly Cautious or Scared Driver
There are some drivers who may be better off taking public transportation. Why? They just can’t seem to handle the stresses of being on the road—especially when they get around big rigs. Let’s be honest, driving next to an 18-wheeler loaded down with several tons of logging timber in a thunderstorm will make anyone be extra careful. But there are those who may be a little too anxiety prone in any situation. They startle easy or drive 15 mph under the recommended speed. Both you and this driver will want to avoid each other, so stay to the right and drive at a speed you are comfortable with.
Fellow road warriors, remember that it’s not enough to avoid dangerous drivers. Even when you are driving for hours, don’t become the texter or the hungry man. Stay alert, think safety first, and become a better driver yourself.