Staying Health on the Road

healthy-eating at Hamrick School For a lot of young truck drivers, there are a lot of things on their mind. Remembering their CDL training, driving safely, and meeting deadlines.

You notice “staying healthy” wasn’t on that list.

Indeed your health is often the unheralded key to staying a good truck driver, particularly over time. When a large part of your job involves sitting in a truck for hours at a time, it’s difficult to find the time to work in a little exercise.

David Boyer is a veteran trucker who saw his weight balloon to more than 370 lbs. “My doctor told me to either do something or I’m going to be reading your name in the obituary column in the next 18 months.”

So he did. He was a candidate for the “sleeve surgery,” and began taking care of himself. He has lost more than 130 lbs, “and I feel wonderful,” he said. “I can see all the difference in the world.”

Boyer said he key is working in a little exercise. He advises walking or riding a bicycle, particularly when you’re not on the road.

And when you are on the road and don’t have time to find a gym nearby? “Stay away from fried food,” he said. “Eat a lot of salads, chicken, and vegetables. If you start it early in your career, eat right, sleep right, get plenty of rest, take care of yourself.”

Fresh fruits and vegetables are great snacks you can have in the truck, Boyer said. “Get some stalks of celery and ranch dressing. Get an apple, cut it up and put some peanut butter on it. Different things you can change from going in and eating at a buffet.”

Go grocery shopping instead of eating at restaurants, and Boyer offers a little more advice that comes courtesy of his dietitian. “When you are grocery shopping, look at the aisles. Eat from the outside aisles—fruits and vegetables are always on the outside.”

It is easy, particularly when you are young and have a faster metabolism, to not consider the effects of gaining weight, but Boyer says he has seen it over and over, in addition to experiencing it himself, saying a lot of times truck drivers will stuff themselves, then get in the truck to leave. “You’re so full you just sit down in the truck and go ‘Ugh,’” he said. “And what happens is you sit in that truck and the truck just beats it down.”

Boyer also noted that heavier truckers tend to doze off, especially after a large meal, and the effects of gaining the weight can spiral out of control: sleep apnea, diabetes, circulation problems, particularly in the feet and legs.

“It will slip up on you when you’re young,” he said. “But if you start early, eat right, sleep right, get plenty of rest, and take care of yourself, it won’t.”

“To be a good driver, you need your health,” he said.