Although many experienced truck drivers may have become accustomed to driving while fatigued, despite how dangerous and illegal this may be, they probably don’t even realise that they are doing damage to their long term health.
While we can all feel the physical effect of fatigue, feeling exhausted, drained and heavy are just some of the ways people have described fatigue, a study has now proven that fatigue and the “symptoms” may be more detrimental to our health than we once believed.
The study conducted at Bangor University, School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences indicates that people become exhausted sooner while exercising if they have performed intense or difficult cognitive tasks prior to physical activity.
The study showed that mental fatigue can have a negative effect on physical performance, something we in the long distance road freight industry know all too well.
The study subjected participants to an intense 90-minute set of cognitive work, following which they exhibited a significant drop in stamina.
Because researchers have long proven that our stamina and physical performance is affected by mental fatigue, such as the fatigue experienced after hours of driving, research also now suggests that an inability to perform physically can result in other long term health consequences.
A small amount of regular exercise, even as little as 15 minutes a day can have lots of health benefits. Knowing how to get your exercise – even if it has to be in the cab – means drivers are more likely to fit it in, and using technology to find new and interesting ways to keep moving also helps make it easier to get the exercise you need.
Healthy eating, especially on the road is also vital and although this may prove challenging given that most truckies have to eat whatever is available at truck stops along their journey, planning ahead of a trip will help to ensure you stay on track with your healthy.
The following advice from an article on CDAPress.com explains what we can do to better manage this fatigue, reduce mental exhaustion and increase our energy levels
1. Keep your diet and nutrition with whole, preferably organic foods.
2. Avoid simple carbohydrates and highly refined sugary foods at least 8 hours before training sessions or competitions.
3. If you fast, only do it on days you do not work out or compete. Fasting can be counterproductive on many levels if done while exercising.
4. Maintain appropriate levels of protien, good fats and complex carbohydrates prior to training sessions or competitions.
5. Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is key to all good health.
6. Get plenty of sleep. Figure out what your body needs and be sure that you get those hours of sleep every day. Remember, lost sleep does catch up with you and your body will need to make up for the rest it has lost.