If you were eating at a truck stop and you heard two truck drivers talking about how they had found a product guaranteed to give them more energy, be more alert, sleep better, be more resistant to colds and flu, manage their weight, reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes and improve their mental health would you be interested in that product? It almost sounds like one of those “too good to be true” infomercials. But there actually is such a thing, and the best part is, it’s free! What is that wonder cure? You’ve probably already guessed, it’s regular exercise.
Before you start thinking, “Oh, THAT! I don’t have time. I don’t have anywhere to exercise. Equipment is expensive,” consider this: 50% of truck drivers are considered to be medically obese. For the general population that number is about 27%. Obesity is one of the primary causes of heart disease, diabetes, knee and joint pain, shortness of breath and premature death. That’s a pretty sobering fact.
Now let’s consider the Big Three excuses:
- I don’t have time.
- I don’t have anywhere to exercise.
- Exercise equipment is expensive.
I Don’t Have Time
You don’t have to spend an hour a day sweating it out at a gym. To get started, as little as 20 minutes of exercise a day can make a difference. They don’t even have to be 20 consecutive minutes. Drivers are required to take regular breaks for rest, food and fuel. Why not use some of that time to get the old body in motion for a few minutes? Instead of sitting in a coffee shop or at a rest area, put that time to use. When you stop to rest, instead of watching TV, playing computer games or reading, use some of that downtime to take care of your body.
Did you know that just 32 laps around an 18 wheeler equals about a mile? If walking around and around your truck doesn’t sound all that exciting, get out and just go for a walk. Walk around the truck stop. Walk around the rest area. Besides being good exercise, it’s a great way to get some fresh air and enjoy some of this wonderful country you spend so many hours driving across.
I Don’t Have Anywhere to Exercise
Not true. There’s plenty of strength training you can do in, on and around your truck, especially if your cab and sleeper have enough room to stand up. You can do squats, crunches, pushups, leg lifts – even yoga. Too cold or wet to walk outside? You can walk, march or even jog in place inside the truck. It’s warm, dry and private.
Exercise Equipment is Expensive
Again, not true. You’d be surprised how much strength and flexibility training you can do with a couple inexpensive dumbbells and resistance bands. With two or three different sizes of dumbbells and resistance bands you can do curls, presses and any number of other exercises. You’re only limited by your imagination and commitment. The most expensive piece of equipment you’ll ever need is a good pair of walking or running shoes.
How much is enough?
The twenty minutes of mild to moderate exercise mentioned earlier is, of course, the bare minimum, but it’s better than not moving at all. Some trainers recommend a minimum of 30 minutes to as much as 60 minutes of exercise. That may sound like a lot, but the sessions don’t have to be long if done two or three times a day during breaks and before sleeping.
To benefit from aerobic exercise like a brisk walk, jogging or walking and jogging in place, you should exercise hard enough to break a sweat and raise your pulse. Learn to take your own pulse. There is an easy formula to calculate your aerobic zone. Subtract your age from 220 and take 60% to 80% of that number. For example, if you are 40 years old, take 60% to 80% of 180. That’s means your aerobic exercise pulse should be over 108 but no higher than 144. Work to maintain that pulse rate.
How to get started
Start gradually. Your body is like your truck. You’d never start out pulling a load in 5th gear. You start in 1st and work your way through the gears until you get up to speed. Your body is no different, especially if you haven’t worked out for a long time. Start slowly and gradually work your way up. After a couple of weeks it’s almost guaranteed you’ll begin to notice you feel better, have more energy and be more alert. Many people find that they even start to look forward to working out.
Of course, before you start any exercise program, be sure you’re physically able to handle it – especially if you’re middle age and haven’t exercised regularly in awhile. In those cases a chat with your doctor is in order. He or she may also be able to help you set up a plan for regular exercise when you’re on the road. There are even websites that provide information about exercise specific to truck drivers.
There aren’t really any excuses for not “getting it in gear” when you’re on the road. Few things in life pay such big rewards for such a small investment. So keep it moving out there.