If you’ve ever driven for a long period of time on the road, then you know just how draining it can be. Even though you are physically ‘sitting still’, there are many more demands on your body and mind that make driving professionally a very demanding job. Of course, that doesn’t take away from the fact that you are sitting still and HGV driving is a sedentary job as well, and one that takes quite a bit more discipline than your average 9-5. But there are growing concerns around the health of HGV drivers, mainly due to the habitual nature of the job. So today, we have 4 tips to help you stay healthier and more alert on the roads, so you can keep driving your HGV, for longer.
As human beings, we are made up of 65% water. So naturally, hydration is important. However, over 75% of the UK population is chronically dehydrated, and suffering the effects every single day. But given that we’re pretty bad at drinking enough water when it’s freely available, how can HGV drivers stay hydrated enough when they don’t have a water cooler nearby? Simple – just make sure you keep water on hand at all times. Get yourself a reusable water bottle (because plastic hurts the world), and make sure it’s constantly full. Drinking enough water (and not fizzy, sugary drinks) is key to staying alert at the wheel. It also aids with digestion, stops you feeling constantly thirsty and doesn’t leave you feeling bloated.
Many HGV drivers I know will scoff at this point – but it is perfectly possible to make healthy food choices while you’re on the road. But most HGV drivers will opt to eat at whatever fast food joint is at their rest stop, and the result is an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease, feeling hungry again very quickly and an expanding waistline. It also causes sugar spikes, which might wake you up for a little while at the time, but will quickly leave you feeling more tired than you were before. After all, we are what we eat. If you want to stay healthy behind the wheel, then you need to take ownership of what you put in your body. That might mean packing some meals beforehand to take on the road, stocking up on healthier snacks like nuts and granola bars in your cab, or just choosing something other than a burger at the services. It’s a small change, but it will improve your mood and concentration dramatically.
Sleep is an incredibly important part of our day. It’s the time where our body recovers from the day, repair itself and lets our minds shut off for a little while. But very few people are getting enough sleep and for HGV drivers working long, irregular or sleeping in cabs it can be even worse. So, when you are at home, make sure you are getting enough sleep every night. If you’re sleeping on the road, take some measures to help you get to sleep and stay there. That might be earplugs to block our traffic noise, eye masks to block out the light, or a foam mattress topper to make that cab bed comfortable enough to sleep on.
Another thing a lot of HGV drivers don’t get is enough exercise. That’s not really anyone’s fault – but long days driving is a very sedentary job, and the mental exhaustion can make it hard to get up the motivation to exercise afterwards. But you don’t need to become a gym rat to take care of yourself. Even 20 minutes of light exercise a day can improve your mood, concentration and even your waistline and will do wonders for all of those stiff backs and necks that plague drivers. You don’t even have to hit the gym in order to exercise properly. Even just jogging around your HGV a few times, or doing a few lunges, squats and push-ups on your rest breaks can do you the world of good.
At the LGV Training Centre, we pride ourselves on educating all of our trainee drivers about all aspects of their HGV career. That doesn’t just mean learning how to drive safely and operate professionally – but how to take care of themselves as well. If they invest some time into self-care, then their career will be longer and happier as a result. For more information, just get in touch with us today.