10 Small Changes for Significant Health Gains in the Trucking Lifestyle


The trucking lifestyle often involves being on the road for long hours, eating fast food, lack of physical activity, and isolation from family and friends. While the open road offers freedom, the day-to-day routine can take a toll both mentally and physically. Common health issues faced by truck drivers include obesity, heart disease, diabetes, injury, stress, fatigue, depression, and substance abuse.

Making minor adjustments to your daily habits can lead to significant gains over time. By being proactive and focusing on health, you can feel better, drive safer, and extend your career. This article outlines 10 small changes truck drivers can make for better health while on the job. With a little effort, you’ll be on the road to wellness.

Get More Sleep

Getting adequate sleep is vital for truck drivers to stay alert and avoid drowsy driving. Driving while fatigued puts the driver and others on the road at risk. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but many truck drivers get less than this.

There are a few ways truckers can aim for more sleep:

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule as much as possible with the same bedtime and wake time, even on weekends and days off. This helps the body’s internal clock.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and large meals within 3-4 hours of bedtime as these can disrupt sleep.
  • Make the cab as dark as possible at night by using blackout curtains. Eliminate noise by turning off electronics. A cool cabin temperature around 65 Fahrenheit also aids sleep.
  • Try to relax before bed with calming activities like reading or meditation. Avoid stimulating screens right before bedtime.
  • If struggling with sleep, speak to a doctor as there may be an underlying issue like sleep apnea interfering. Treatments can help restore healthy sleep.

Getting adequate shuteye pays off through improved concentration, faster reaction times, better mood, and lower stress. Prioritizing sleep is one of the most important steps truckers can take to boost focus and wellbeing while on the road.

Eat Healthier Snacks

Truckers often rely on convenience store snacks to get them through long hauls. Unfortunately, most of these snacks are high in sugar, fat, and calories. Making small swaps to your snacking routine can add up to big health gains over time. Here are some easy ideas:

  • Choose nuts or seeds instead of candy bars. They provide protein, fiber, and healthy fats to help you feel full longer. Individual packs of almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds etc are easy to keep in the cab.
  • Swap chips or cheese crackers with low-fat popcorn, whole grain cereal, or high protein granola bars. Look for options with 5g of protein or more to curb hunger.
  • Pick up fresh fruit such as bananas, apples, oranges, grapes for a sweet treat packed with vitamins and fiber. Fruit cups or applesauce also last without refrigeration.
  • For crunchy or salty cravings, roasted chickpeas, snap peas, or carrot sticks dipped in hummus can satisfy.
  • Replace sugary sodas and juices with flavored seltzer, unsweetened iced tea, or water with lemon or lime. Staying hydrated will help keep energy levels up.

With some planning and willpower, healthier snacking on the road is very achievable. Focus on options high in protein or fiber to stay full between meals. Your body will reap the benefits over time.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is a common issue for truck drivers. Long hours on the road make it easy to forget to drink enough fluids. Being chronically dehydrated can cause fatigue, headaches, and other health issues over time. Here are some tips for staying hydrated while driving:

  • Keep a reusable water bottle or jug within arm’s reach so you remember to sip frequently. Avoid sodas and juices which can dehydrate you further.
  • Fill up your water container at every stop. Don’t let it run empty.
  • Set a reminder to drink water every hour or couple of hours.
  • Drink extra when stopping for meals.
  • Choose water-rich fruits and vegetables for snacking like cucumbers, oranges, grapes.
  • Drink an extra bottle for every few hours of sweating heavily or being in extreme heat.
  • Drink water, herbal tea, or decaf coffee instead of high-caffeine beverages which act as diuretics.
  • If you struggle to drink plain water, add lemon, lime, or mint for flavor.

Staying hydrated keeps your mind sharp, boosts energy, prevents headaches, and supports overall health. Make drinking enough fluids a priority each day behind the wheel.

Take Movement Breaks

Truck drivers tend to sit for long periods while on the road, which can lead to muscle stiffness, poor circulation, and back pain. Taking regular movement breaks can provide relief. Here are some simple stretches and exercises you can do right in the cab:

  • Ankle circles: Lift your leg and draw circles with your foot in both directions. Do 2-3 sets per side. This mobilizes the ankle joint.
  • Seated twist: Sit up tall and place your right hand on the outside of the left knee. Twist your upper body to the left. Hold for 5 breaths, repeat on the other side. Twisting the spine increases flexibility.
  • Upper back stretch: Interlace your fingers and reach your arms overhead, palms facing out. Push your hands up toward the ceiling to open up the shoulders and upper back. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
  • Wrist and hand stretches: Lace your fingers together and straighten arms out in front of you. Flip your palms away from you and push out through your fingertips until you feel a stretch. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat with palms facing toward you.
  • Neck stretches: Slowly tilt your head toward each shoulder, chin pointed diagonally down. Feel the stretch on the opposite side of your neck. Hold 5 breaths each side.
  • Seated march or jog: Lift your knees up and down in a marching or jogging motion. Go at a pace you can sustain for 1-2 minutes. Get your heart pumping.

Taking brief breaks for movement every 1-2 hours can enhance blood flow, boost energy, alleviate aches and pains, and improve your overall wellbeing on the road.

Practice Deep Breathing

Driving a truck can be a stressful job. Long hours on the road, meeting delivery deadlines, dealing with traffic, and being away from home can all contribute to feeling overwhelmed at times. Taking a few minutes for some deep breathing exercises is an easy yet effective way truckers can manage stress levels while on the go.

Deep breathing triggers the body’s natural relaxation response. It’s a quick and easy technique that helps release tension and clear your mind. Here are some breathing exercises to try during breaks:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing – Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Inhale slowly through your nose, feeling your stomach expand as your diaphragm contracts. The hand on your chest should remain still. Exhale slowly through pursed lips. Repeat for 5-10 deep, slow breaths. This technique sends a message to your brain to calm down.
  • 4-7-8 breathing – Inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, then exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. The longer exhale helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress. Do 4-5 rounds, breathing deeply into your abdomen.
  • Alternate nostril breathing – Gently close off one nostril by pressing on it with a finger. Inhale slowly through the open nostril. Close that nostril then release the other one. Exhale through the newly opened nostril. Repeat, alternating nostrils for 10 breaths. This is calming and balancing.

Taking just 5-10 minutes for deep breathing whenever you start feeling overwhelmed can relax both mind and body. The benefits of deep breathing include reduced heart rate, lower blood pressure, relaxed muscles, and decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Try weaving some deep breaths into your daily driving routine.

Talk to Loved Ones

Driving long haul can get lonely on the road. Being away from family and friends for extended periods can take a toll on mental health. Humans are social creatures by nature, so having strong connections to loved ones is vital for wellbeing.

Even just a short phone call to a spouse, parent, friend or other family member can make a big difference. Hearing a familiar friendly voice, sharing stories, and catching up helps truckers feel more connected and less isolated out on the highway. It’s a simple way to combat homesickness and elevate your mood.

If phone calls are difficult to schedule, try alternatives like video chatting, messaging, sending photos or brief emails. Reaching out regularly to maintain bonds will make the miles apart easier for both parties. Prioritize staying in touch with significant people in your life. Don’t let the distraction of driving prevent you from investing time in relationships.

The social interaction will provide a mental and emotional boost to stay motivated. It also gives you something to look forward to during downtime at stops. Overall, putting effort into sustaining meaningful relationships while trucking can greatly benefit your spirits and satisfaction. Don’t underestimate the power of a little catch-up with loved ones to lift your mood and forge human connection.

Listen to Audiobooks

Long days on the road can get boring and monotonous. Listening to audiobooks is a great way to pass the time while also stimulating your mind. Audiobooks provide a fun escape and can transport you into an immersive story world. They are also great for learning and self-improvement.

Audiobooks allow truck drivers to enjoy books while keeping their eyes on the road. You can listen to fiction or non-fiction books to stay entertained. Audiobooks on personal development topics can help you gain knowledge and skills for your career or relationships. Listening to biographies offers inspiration from influential leaders. Business audiobooks provide valuable insights from top entrepreneurs and CEOs.

With a vast catalog of audiobooks available across many genres, you can tailor your listening experience to match your interests. Download audiobook apps to access extensive libraries and recommendations. Seek out highly-rated bestsellers and noteworthy classics. Whether you’re looking to be amused, informed, inspired, or educated, audiobooks make productive use of time spent driving. They provide enjoyable food for thought to stimulate your mind during long hauls.

Keep the Cab Clean

Keeping your truck cab clean and organized can do wonders for your mental clarity and focus while driving those long hauls. When your environment is cluttered, your mind naturally feels more chaotic too. Set aside time each day or week to tidy up your truck cab and restore order. Start by clearing out any trash or unnecessary items. Prioritize making your bed and folding away laundry. Organize documents into neat piles or storage containers. Do a quick wipe down of surfaces to remove dust and grime. Consider adding small organizing touches like door pockets, hooks, bins, or shelves to maintain tidiness.

Driving for hours on end in a messy space can drain your mental energy. But keeping your truck cab clean helps create a calming environment, which in turn clears your mind. Tidying up reduces visual distractions so you can concentrate fully on the road. It also provides a sense of accomplishment that energizes you for the day ahead. Maintaining organization is equally important at end of day when you’re preparing for rest. Walking into a tidy, welcoming cab helps you unwind, relax, and get better quality sleep. Putting effort into your surroundings, both inside the truck and your sleeper cab, supports a healthy headspace.


Truck driving can be a lonely and sedentary job, which poses unique health challenges for drivers. However, with some small habit changes, drivers can make significant gains in their overall wellbeing.

In this article, we covered 10 simple yet impactful tweaks that can be made to create a healthier lifestyle on the road. Getting adequate sleep, fueling up on nutritious snacks, staying hydrated, taking movement breaks, and practicing deep breathing are all easy ways drivers can support their physical health. Calling loved ones, listening to audiobooks, keeping the cab clean, and more can benefit mental health.

While the trucking environment makes healthy living difficult at times, it’s not impossible. By being mindful and making self-care a priority, drivers can thrive in this career. Focus on consistency with these tips, not perfection. Over time, these small changes will compound to create better long-term health. With a few simple adjustments, drivers can enjoy the open road much more.

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