Staying Healthy in the Heat
Is your body ready for summer?
Are you ready for it? Long days, lush scenery, heat shimmer in the distance, sun glinting off cars and RVs, construction crews, detours, lost drivers making last-second lane changes, accidents and emergency vehicles. It’s summer, in all its glory, bringing its particular challenges for professional drivers.
Brad Zall, Health and Safety Advisor at SafetyDriven and a former heavy- and long-haul driver, says “one of the most important things you can do for yourself in the summer is to take care of your body.” Be healthy to be your best on the road.
Keep your cool with these tips:
Maintain healthy habits.
Being in general good health will keep your energy up and support your mood.
• Nutrition. Good nutrition is always important, but being on the road makes healthy eating difficult. Pack healthy foods if you’re cooking for yourself. If you aren’t, make wise choices in restaurants—choose white meat over red, whole grain over white, roasted over fried. Good nutrition will keep your body operating smoothly!
• Hydration. Staying hydrated can be difficult. Be sure to drink plenty of water—don’t wait till you’re really thirsty to drink up. With fresh fruits and vegetables in season, you can eat some of your water. Food high in water includes tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon, citrus fruit, cucumber, lettuce, and celery.
• Exercise. Sitting for long stretches is hard on the body. Ideally, we should get 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. A little imagination will get you there! Do push-ups off the side of the truck, find a safe space at a rest stop and hold a plank position as long as you can, raise knees alternately to your hands held at waist level for 60 seconds. Walk a mile by doing 32 laps around your tractor trailer.
• Rest. During sleep, your brain does its housekeeping, getting rid of clutter and setting you up for the next day, boosting your immune system and improving reaction time. Stick to a routine, eat light dinners, and avoid screens before bed, especially if your long haul has you crossing time zones. Meditation, or quiet time, can help you sleep.
Respect the sun.
This isn’t a yoga pose! As Zall notes, some of your tasks are physically demanding, especially in the heat; he points out tarping and strapping down a load. While a little sun is good for us, too much can cause problems.
• Sunburn. A sunburn can be distracting. Prevent burns and “trucker’s arm” by using sunscreen, wearing long-sleeved shirts, and wearing sunglasses with UV protection (eyes burn, too). Staying hydrated can make sunburns less intense. Include sunburn remedies in your first aid kit.
• Heat exhaustion. Working in the hot sun can cause your body to overheat, leading to heat exhaustion. Prevent overheating; stay hydrated, work in the shade when possible, wear loose, light clothing and a hat, protect against sunburn, and take breaks with your A/C on.
Zall reminds drivers to stay safe by being prepared. “Pack lots of water for your work day” and be sure to eat well, exercise, and rest.
You can depend on SafetyDriven.ca for all your safety needs.
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