There are thousands of HGV drivers driving on the UK’s roads every day. It is important for the drivers (and their employers) that they keep themselves healthy, active, and able to do the job effectively.
The following five health tips are a great way to stay on top of your physical and mental health while driving and travelling away from home. Driving can be a long, solitary, and challenging job, but there are ways to stay on top of your fitness and wellbeing.
Eating (healthily) on the go
Driving is a sedentary activity, and this makes food intake one of the most important health tips. Try to focus on ways to make and eat making healthier food choices when driving.
Supermarkets and many petrol stations now have ample and varied food selections. A wide variety of healthy foods and snacks should always be readily available. Pre-made salads or ‘select your own’ deli salad counters, which are common in many supermarkets, enable healthy food choices. Raw fruit and vegetables contain lots of vitamins and minerals which are great for general health and aid digestion.
Try to avoid the temptation of drive-thru’s offering fast food and junk food.
Drinking water is essential. HGV drivers should consume around 2 litres of water each day to stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause a multitude of issues such as a loss of alertness and tiredness. Your body will only tell you it is thirsty when it is already dehydrated, so ensure you stay alert by drinking regularly.
Use a large refillable water container and sip water throughout the day, rather than buying expensive bottles of water to carry around in your truck.
Try to avoid fizzy drinks and coffee where possible. Two cups of coffee per day is an acceptable intake for drivers, however, any more may have an adverse impact on your sleep schedule.
Get plenty of rest
It is important to make the most of rest periods and breaks. When working long hours that require continuous concentration, it is key to get enough rest - a lack of sleep is the main cause of fatigue and drowsiness.
Most healthy adults will need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to function at their best, park your truck in a safe and quiet place and set yourself regular settling and rising times to keep a good sleeping pattern. There are a number of safe and secure truck stops in the UK where you can stop off for a rest.
EU rules on driving hours state that drivers should not drive for more than 9 hours per day and that drivers must take at least 11 hours of rest each day. For every 4 and a half hours of driving a 45-minute rest period must also be taken
Road safety charity Brake reports that 1 in 6 deaths or serious injury on the roads are due to drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
An essential health tips for HGV drivers is to take regularly exercise and stay active. Make time to pull over, get out of the truck and stretch your legs or do some simple exercises. This will help to get your blood flow circulating and it will also contribute to keeping alert. With a little forward thinking and planning there are a few ways to fit walking and jogging, cycling or weights into a busy driving schedule.
According to a 2017 British Medical Journal (BMJ) study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research(NIHR), 84% of UK HGV drivers have an issue with being overweight or obese. To try and avoid this, the NHS has stated that all adults should exercise for 150 minutes per week - around half an hour each day, 5 days a week.
Mental health and well-being
Maintaining mental health and well-being is also essential. Driving can be a taxing; monotonous occupation and it is vital to keep your mind active while driving. Audiobooks, podcasts, and music are great for mental stimulation and there are a lot of ways to access this content with a smartphone before you begin driving.
Driving long distances, can be lonely and can leave you feeling isolated from your family and friends. Make time to call and stay in contact with them whilst you are away from home.