If you spend all day, every day out on the open road, it’s likely you’ve struggled at some point with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In fact, studies show that many people who drive for a living find it tricky to practice – and keep up with – even the most basic self-care. Even if you don’t drive for a living but are hiring a van and are about to set off on a long journey, you don’t want to immediately fall into bad habits.
We get it, we’ve been there too! You’re sitting for long periods of time in the same position. And it’s so easy to be tempted by yummy yet fatty treats at service stations. It really can be tricky to stay healthy at the best of times. Luckily, there are a few very simple steps you can take which will completely transform your driving routine and your overall wellbeing. Ready for a new healthy you? We know you are!
Like to sit slumped over? Keep that posture in check!
Driving for long periods can begin to take a toll on many aspects of your health – especially if your posture is bad. Sitting with your back properly arched and your neck straight may seem like minor things, but they really will make a huge difference to your physical health. Making sure your seat and neck rest are properly adjusted is also vital for reducing your chances of back pain when driving.
Before you get in any vehicle, check your seat is at the right distance from the steering wheel, that it’s tilted at the correct angle for maximum comfort and that your neck rest is in line with the back of your head.
If service station food is your guilty pleasure, forgo it for a healthy pack up
Fast food may seem like a comfort and a convenience. If you spend most of your time sitting down in the driver’s seat however, you’re automatically putting yourself at risk of certain health conditions which can only be made worse by tasty yet unhealthy treats.
Instead, get into the habit of making your own pack up. Bringing lots of healthy snacks to work with you will also help keep hunger pangs at bay and limit the likelihood of you grabbing a donut or packet of crisps on your next driving break. By packing your own food, you’ll have control over what you eat and will be able to ensure you’re not just eating lots of sugar and fat.
Healthy doesn’t have to mean boring, either! There are so many delicious yet nutritious lunch options out there, from tasty sandwich fillings to pasta salads and pitta bread with dips. Worried about keeping it cold? Invest in a mini cool bag.
Need caffeine to keep going? Substitute every other drink with water
While coffee and fizzy drinks might give you a much-needed energy boost, they’re also doing little to benefit your health.
Instead, you should make sure you always have a bottle of fresh water in your vehicle. Staying hydrated will not only stop you from feeling thirsty, but it’ll also keep headaches at bay, make you feel more alert and even lower your risk of certain health conditions.
Find plain water boring? Try infusing it with some frozen fruit, slithers of cool cucumber or a slice of lemon or lime.
If you’re a prepper, prioritise getting a good night’s sleep before your journey
Like to plan everything in advance? One of the best things you can do before starting a long drive is make sure you have a nice long sleep the night before.
Tiredness can have a huge effect on your reaction times and put you at a much higher risk of getting into an accident. In fact, driving while drowsy is actually thought to be behind a third of all accidents on the road – a scary thought!
Seven to nine hours of sleep is what you should be aiming for each night. Ensure you hit this target before a long journey and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and revving to go!
Like a good bit of tech? Consider a fitness tracker
If you’re the kind of person who needs a little nudge when it comes to things like exercise, a fitness tracker could be ideal.
There’s lots of cool kit out there which tracks things like your fitness levels, heart rate and blood pressure. A tracker could also help prompt you to stop more regularly and spend your breaks moving around outside of your vehicle.
Last but not least, don’t forget to take a break!
It’s always a good idea to take regular breaks. And don’t spend all of your breaks sitting in your vehicle, either! Get up, walk around and do some stretches. As well as giving you the chance to stretch your muscles and get the blood flowing around your body again, being outdoors for a few minutes will give your mood an instant boost and allow you to soak up some vitamin D.
Top tip: If you have space in your vehicle, try sitting down with your legs elevated for ten minutes before you hit the road again. This, along with deep breathing exercises, is awesome for destressing and lowering your blood pressure.
Discover more tips on preventing back pain while driving or read our essential guide to staying safe on the road during the coronavirus pandemic.