Trucker Tools recently surveyed truckers like you about your health, fitness and wellness challenges and how you stay healthy on the road. You may have even answered our survey. If so, thank you! We wanted to find out what you need help with when it comes to health and fitness. We also wanted to find out how you cope with long hours behind the wheel and limited time for exercise. Nearly 200 truckers answered our survey and 80 percent told us that staying healthy and active on the road is a major concern.

Trucker Tools recently spoke with Dr. Rhonda Bompensa-Zimmerman, the Director of Fitness and Wellness at GlobalTranz, to learn more about the work she does with the Arizona-based 3PL. We also asked her for some tips on how truckers like you can incorporate healthy habits into your busy schedules. Here’s the advice that Rhonda offered. 

1. Get Outside

“I was talking to a truck driver recently and he was ready to throw in the towel because of the isolation of being by himself and feelings of depression,” said Rhonda. “I told him to take some time to enjoy nature and take a couple of deep breaths throughout the day in order to notice his thoughts and feelings. There are a lot little things – like exposing yourself to sunlight in the morning – that can do so much for the neurons in our brains and how we manage our day and emotions.”

“I was talking to a truck driver recently and he was ready to throw in the towel because of the isolation of being by himself and feelings of depression,” said Rhonda. “I told him to take some time to enjoy nature and take a couple of deep breaths throughout the day in order to notice his thoughts and feelings. There are a lot little things – like exposing yourself to sunlight in the morning – that can do so much for the neurons in our brains and how we manage our day and emotions.”

2. Be Present

“Just listening to something positive like a motivating podcast gets you moving in the right direction so that your brain gets out of that doom and gloom loop,” Rhonda said. “Even while you’re doing something simple like brushing your teeth or washing your hands, you can be grateful in the moment. Pay attention to the water and the sensation on your hands because our sensations can change our perceptions — and then our perceptions will change our thoughts and then our thoughts will change our feelings and our daily actions. Being present with your sensations can help you move away from negative thoughts.” 

3. Meal-Plan

“Having a crock pot in your truck and bringing healthy, prepared meals with you can help you keep your eating habits healthy on the road,” advised Rhonda. “It’s also important to scope out ahead of time where you can get healthy, nutritious food. I know it’s kind of boring, but eating as many fruits and vegetables as you can is a good healthy habit. Try to avoid processed foods and try to eat foods that provide a high nutritional value. You should always have water with you, as well.”

4. Use Movement To Reduce Fatigue 

“If you’re having a hard time staying alert on the road, you can use those hand-held tension stress balls to wake yourself up,” Rhonda told us. “Stretching is a great way to wake yourself up. If you can’t get out of the truck, just having some sort of exercise tension band in your truck will allow you to do some stretches. If you can get out of your truck, jump rope for five minutes or do some jumping jacks. That will wake you up immediately. Movement wakes up your brain and makes you less likely to fall asleep.”

5. Make Sleep a Priority

“Above all else, you need to prioritize sleep because it impacts everything,” Rhonda said. “Sleep is so important in keeping your immune system healthy. I would recommend tracking your sleep with an app or even pencil and paper. Sleep impacts how awake you are, whether you’re going to get tired or irritable, and whether you’re going to make healthy choices. Sleep is where the magic happens. That’s where you can let go of the stress of the day and reset your mind and body.” 

6. Do Mini Workouts

“Even four minutes of exercise can positively impact your overall health and wellness,” Rhonda reports. “You can start out exercising for four minutes at a time a few times each day. Generally speaking, it’s recommended that you moderately exercise for 150 minutes each week. If you break it up each day and squeeze in four or five minutes at a time, it’s easier. I would recommend doing four or five-minute workouts six times/day six days/week because that gets you close to the recommended amount of exercise for the week. Add in a few minutes of dynamic stretching here and there during the day and you’ll be set.” 

7. Flip the Script on Detention

“If you’re detained, you have no control over it, but what do you have control over? How can you best use that time?” Rhonda said. “You can make phone calls to your family, watch a movie on your phone, read a book, listen to music or do a craft just to have some fun. If you’re just sitting there for hours, that’s not helping you at all. That makes it worse. Try to find something productive that you enjoy. If you know you’re going to be anxious, have a plan to replace those feelings with healthier ones. For each person, it’s going to be different. The first thing I would do is to have a hobbies list, a list of things that you enjoyed doing when you were younger and would like to try again.”

8. Monitor Your Mood

“If we’re in a positive place with our thoughts, we’re able to handle things so much better,” Rhonda shared. “Try to become more mindful about what you’re paying attention to and where you’re exerting your energy, whether it’s in a productive way or a worrisome way. Doing so helps you enjoy your experiences as best you can. The simple act of journaling can help you let go of some stuff. Journaling unconsciously teaches us to not get so overwhelmed and overworked. When we write our thoughts down on paper, we unconsciously begin to feel a sense of calmness. ”

9. Reach Out to Someone

“When you feel like you’re getting overwhelmed, reach out somebody – whether it’s an employee assistance program, another trucker, a mentor or a family member – and express that,” advised Rhonda. “We also really need to check on each other, particularly if we haven’t heard from someone or notice a change in their behavior or lack of communication.”

10. Time Audit Your Life

“Time audit your life,” recommended Rhonda. “Maybe you’re scrolling on your phone doing negative stuff for several hours each day. Instead, do something else that will make you feel good, like call your mother or your sister, or join a support group online. That’s one of the wonderful things about the internet and social media, too — you can connect with other people online.” 

Read our most recent trucker interview, Flatbedding and Trucking Truths with Wayne Cragg, for more tips on dealing with detention. To download the Trucker Tools app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/

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