Everyone knows that exercise does far more than just control weight, it also reduces our risk of heart disease, aids in managing blood sugar and helps cognitive skills keeping our memory strong. We all know that exercise is important but according to the CDC one-fourth of truckers are not doing any form of vigorous activity. Life on the road adds extra challenges to find time and space to exercise, but it is possible. Every step we take can make a difference, even 15 minutes a day reduces our risk of death by 35 percent. Now due to new FMCSA medical regulation weight, health and fitness standards will need to be met to keep a CDL, this is the time to start to focus on fitness.
Safety is always first whether behind the wheel or creating an exercise routine. There is a slight increase of heart attack or cardiac complications when going from sedentary to active so getting a green light from a doctor is recommended for good reason. Another professional to consider is a personal trainer. Doing an exercise properly decreases the chances of injury and a trainer can help put together the ultimate work out. There are trainers who will meet a client at a truck stop or rest area.
Making the most of 15 minutes can be accomplished by working multiple groups at the same time. There are single moves that incorporate more than one muscle group like squats, they are the perfect compound exercise, they activate the quadriceps, glutes and calves. Combination can also be created by doing two types of exercises at the same time like a lunge and a bicep curl. The benefits of working multiple muscles include burning more calories, improving intramuscular coordination, elevating heart rate, improving strength and gaining more muscle mass. Your workout needs just five exercises, one from each of these categories: push (pressing away from you), pull (tugging toward you), hip-hinge (bending from the middle), squat (flexing at the knee), and plank (stabilizing your core). If you are asking yourself if 15 minutes will really make a difference keep in mind that the average time it takes for the body to use up your sugar reserve is 15 minutes. After the reserve is exhausted the body starts burning fat. The best plan would be to gradually take the work out from 15 to 20 minutes to optimize fat burning. However, as with most things, consistency is the most important habit to create.
High Tech Help
There a plethora of apps geared specifically for truckers building a workout. Cleo Hardy, from Atlanta, created an app called Iron Trucker Fitness and it includes a data base of exercises drivers can do using their tractor-trailer. This same app also has an exercise log to help track progress and keeping ourselves accountable is crucial to maintaining routine. The Active trucker is another popular app worth checking out. The Active Trucker program is a driver-specific exercise program that features 15-minute exercises that drivers can do each day to help them get in better shape. The program is divided into two units: Active Trucker Phase 1 and Active Trucker Phase 2. Each of the workouts are 15 minutes or less. Rolling Strong is another app geared toward truckers. It accesses your health database on the road to find those important clinic locations, health check stations, and coaching sessions.
Truck Stop Support
In addition to apps there is additional support for drivers. Pilot Flying J truck stops offer a wellness program and 600 travel center gyms. Travel America has locations with free exercise rooms, outdoor fitness stations and walking trails. Regular truck stops without special equipment can still be utilized for an effective work out. Cardio can be done in place by jogging, dancing or jumping rope. The biggest obstacle is getting past the perception of others. Starting with even five minutes will help overcome feeling on display, by passers may notice but most will respect the dedication. Work out tools like weights, resistance bands and mats just make the work out even more official looking.
The truth is the information on fitness is endless and we know what we should be doing, but are we? Start with an easy goal of just 15 minutes of movement every day for 21 days (they say that is how long it takes to develop a habit) and start to slightly increase your time. Our health is a lifetime commitment so results will take time, but the benefits begin with the first day.
Staying healthy is a challenge for everyone, but especially truck drivers. According to a survey by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), over two-thirds of America’s truck drivers (67%) are obese, with 17% classifying as morbidly obese (a BMI of 40 or greater). Researchers have associated sedentary behavior with approximately 35 chronic diseases and conditions, The Wall Street Journal reported in 2015. Many of these issues are linked to obesity. Sitting for hours every day contributes heavily to these issues making eating healthy even more important. Changing to healthier habits is a process and even small changes to our overall diet will help combat those more serious health issues.
The biggest downfall for drivers is eating at truck stops however there has been some effort made to provide healthier options. The three companies listed below are not the only ones, but they have made the most changes:
Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores provides fresh fruit at its 500-plus stores. Love’s offers a fresh salad option as well as protein-packed .to-go items. They are neatly labeled with a Fresh to Go label.
TA Stations also have a line of healthy items labels Stay Fit.
Flying J has a tree symbol on their healthier items.
Even if the healthier items are not clearly labeled there are still better options. Every healthier choice made really does impact overall health. Packing our meals every day gives us total control over what we eat, but it isn’t always an option. When you do have eat on the road here are some best practices:
Hard Boiled Eggs -these are a fantastic option. Low in calories, low in fat, high in protein eggs are easy to make ahead of time at home or grab on the go.
Oatmeal is nutrient rich and can lower the risk of heart disease and aid in weight loss. Many truck stops are paired up with McDonalds and they offer oatmeal with fruit topping. This is a fantastic alternative to the other fast food breakfast options.
Yogurt with Granola-Yogurt can be a great source of calcium and B-12 but can also be a source of sugar. Pairing a plain yogurt with a little bit of granola and fresh fruit keep this choice healthy.
Lunch and Dinner
Tuna Pouches- Every pouch packs in the protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The fatty acids can reduce depression and heart disease. The pouches are easy to transport making them a perfect lunch choice. If you’re not ready to have a breadless sandwich you can always use a low-calorie wrap.
Salad-this one seems like a “no-brainer” but not all salads hold the same value. The lighter in color the lettuce is, the less nutrients there are. Many salads have high calorie count dressings and more cheese than vegetables. Look for salads with dark green leafy lettuce or spinach and add some extra veggies.
Restaurants can pose a challenge when it comes to healthy choices. Making even subtle changes can improve overall health, most restaurants will swap out fries with veggies if asked. This is also an opportunity to think about portion sizes, try cutting a sandwich or burger in half and save the rest for a snack later.
Fruits and veggies – They are another one to look at more carefully. Packaged fruits and vegetables tend to come with sugar filled sauces or dressings that add additional calories. Even with the extra calories they are still a better choice.
Nuts- This high protein snack is a healthy choice in moderation. Nuts are high in nutrients but can also be high in fat and sodium. Choosing salt-free pre-portioned nuts help you reap the benefits without the downfalls.
Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds- These do not have the fat factor but can fall into the same trap as nuts with the salt. There are many flavored options that omit the sodium. Sunflower seeds have vitamin E and pumpkin seeds help improve insulin regulation which can lower the risk of diabetes.
Beef or varied meat jerky- Just like all salad is not the same, neither are all jerkies. Some are filled with sugar and preservatives, but there are multiple brands now made with all-natural ingredients.
Water is not only the best choice when it comes to calories, it also helps reduce hunger. Adding a little fruit to your water gives it a little flavor and adds extra nutrients.
Most beverages found in truck stops are not the best choices but focusing on what to have vs what not to have really makes change more sustainable.
Your health is worth the dedication to making healthier choices. If a slightly better option is made every day, every meal, the results will speak for themselves! Eating right is only part of the equation, our next feature will highlight the exercise aspect of fitness and the resources available on the road. Until then make the best choices you can and keep driving safely!
During the recent Georgia Foreign Trade Conference Gov. Brian Kemp discussed how the new trade agreement with China has already benefited the Georgia Market. “As the nation’s largest poultry producer, Georgia stands to recapture a substantial portion of the Chinese market,” Kemp said. “Forty percent of all frozen poultry that leaves the United States does so through the Port of Savannah. Strong negotiations with China have paid off and present a substantial opportunity for producers in Georgia,” he said.
The first shipment of poultry – 50,000 pounds of Georgia-produced chicken feet – arrived in China in January. The governor added that cotton, animal feed, grain, peanuts and pecans, among other Georgia exports also stand to benefit from the Phase I trade deal with China, signed Jan. 15. In 2015 China banned U.S. poultry, prior to the ban the market was $500 million in annual sales for United States producers. The current market just for chicken feet is $835 million according to the USA poultry and egg export council.
The new deal requires China to focus more on preventing the theft of American technology and corporate secrets by state entities and companies. China claims punishments for intellectual property theft, such as larger fines and even imprisonment will prevent stealing. The deal also stipulates 200 billion dollars of goods to be purchased by china to balance out trade with the United States. The agreement allows China a two-year window to purchase the goods. In addition, the deal states that China is not able to manipulate currency and an enforcement system is included to make sure these rules are followed. In return the U.S. agreed to reduce tariffs on some Chinese products while keeping tariffs on $380 billion in goods to use as leverage for phase two of the deal. Several industries and consumers will benefit from the changes made so far.
Phase one may only be a partial deal but it is still good news for both United States and Chinese economies. The tariffs imposed by the Trump administration were seen as necessary to change policy, but certainly had repercussions for the supply chain, businesses, consumers and farmers. Farm debt has reached a record high and farm bankruptcies are up 24 percent. In addition to lifting the ban on poultry China has agreed to lift the ban on dairy, infant formula, and beef which will all help farmers to sell more. $32 Billion of the $200 billion is to be allocated for agricultural products.
The agricultural industry is not the only winner in this new deal. The stock market had a record day when the deal was signed and is continuing to grow. The banking industry is also benefiting from new policies that will allow them to enter China without partnering with a local bank. JP Morgan Chase has already been planting seeds to grow in the Chinese market.
When the Chinese economy recovers it is predicted that their energy consumption will rise exponentially, and this will drive demand for natural gas.
The Tech industry dodged a bullet with phase one changes. The next round of tariffs Trump planned to implement were on cellphones, laptops and other tech products made in China. In the new deal those tariffs will never be put into place.
Many of the products on the shelves have had their tariffs reduced from 15 percent to 7.5 percent and some products, such as toys, escaped new tariffs headed their way.
We have yet to learn what phase two will bring and there are still hurdles to our recovery. Economists calculate that the U.S. and China trade war prevented growth of 3 percent last year ($65 billion) and the remaining tariffs will continue to hinder growth by $85 billion in 2020. While we wait for phase two, we can rejoice in the recovery we are making and the progress our government has made so far.