Trucker Health: Follow these 6 tips to stay fit

6 tips: How HGV drivers stay fit on the road

HGV drivers are often on the road for many hours and usually sit in the same position. This can lead to muscle tension and back pain. In the medium to long term, a lack of exercise and an unnatural posture at the wheel can even lead to chronic changes in the skeletal and muscular system. Truckers can combat a lack of exercise and physical ailments with simple fitness exercises. Some service stations and parking facilities now also offer outdoor fitness facilities, which are ideal for an active break and a quick workout.

Tip no. 1: Take regular breaks

It is important to take regular breaks so you stay fit and focussed. HGV drivers must make active use of this time to stretch their legs and take a few steps. This promotes blood circulation and helps prevent muscle tension and fatigue. We recommend to always take deep breaths when your moving about.

Tip no. 2: Stretches and mobility exercises

Stretches and mobility exercises are a simple way of counteracting muscle tension and pain. Here are some simple mobility exercises you can do outside while on brake or even directly in the cab:

• Shoulder circles: slowly and consciously move your shoulders in circles in both directions to loosen up shoulder muscles.

• Stretching your neck: carefully tilt your head to one side to stretch the neck muscles. Hold this position for a few seconds and repeat the exercise on the other side.

• Stretching your chest: Stretch your arm out to the sides and turn your upper body in the opposite direction. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then turn your body in the opposite direction.

Tip no. 3: Strengthening exercises

Strengthening exercises can help strengthen your muscles and thus prevent discomfort and pain. Some exercises that do not need any additional equipment are

• Wall sits: As part of this exercise, HGV drivers position themselves with their backs against the vehicle (or a wall) and squat down until their thighs and lower legs are in a right angle. It looks like you're sitting down – just without a chair. Hold this position for one minute and then relax.

• Squats: Stand with your legs in line with your hips and squat. Make sure that your knees do not protrude beyond the tips of your toes. This exercise strengthens leg muscles and promotes stability.

• Glute bridges: Lay flat on the ground. Lift your upper body off the ground and hold this position for a few seconds. This exercise strengthens the abdominal muscles and supports an upright posture.

• Press-ups: Support yourself with your hands on the bed of the vehicle or a raised surface and do some press-ups. This exercise strengthens the arm, shoulder and chest muscles.

• Rope skipping: If you don't have the chance to go for a run or a swim (as is often the case), rope skipping is a good alternative to train your stamina. Storing the rope requires little space in the cab and you can use it at any time. Start by skipping for one minute and then, with several breaks, increase the skipping period to up to ten minutes.

Tip no. 4: Healthy diet and a sufficient intake of fluids

• Let's be honest: HGV drivers are often exposed to increased health risks due to their lifestyle and diet. In an effort to counteract these problems, drivers must pay attention not only to fitness but also to a healthy diet. Ideally avoid fast food and greasy snacks. Instead, focus on fresh fruit, vegetables, wholemeal products and lean sources of protein. It is best to prepare and cook the meals yourself. In this case, use a cool box to store meals in the vehicle.

• Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can lead to tiredness and lower our concentration levels, especially during long stints. HGV drivers must ensure that they always have a sufficient amount of water or unsweetened drinks on board.

Tip no. 5: Stress management

Stress can have a negative impact on physical and mental health. HGV drivers must therefore regularly incorporate relaxation techniques such as taking deep breaths, meditation or mindfulness exercises into their daily routine. These can help reduce stress and stay focussed on the road. Good levels of air circulation in the driver's cab is important. Also replace the cab air filter at regular intervals.

Tip no. 6: Plenty of sleep

Healthy sleep is particularly important for HGV drivers to stay focused and perform well. Make sure you get enough sleep and have good quality sleep. A sleep mask may not look too great, but it yield great results, as can lullabies or soothing sounds.

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