When you are a driver or an Owner Operator it is very easy to slip into a sedentary lifestyle, which could lead you to having a difficult time in passing your DOT Physical Examination. There is a slew of things working against you from the kind of food that’s on the road to the fact that most of the day you are sitting
Many things that can develop from the lack of movement. Those long hours on the road of straight concentration can lead to some vicious hunger cravings. We all know that the next truck stop visit could have some sort of food choice that may not seem that bad at the moment but in the long run, could cost you time, money, and passing the DOT Physical Examination. Companies like Status Transportation are constantly looking for ways to improve driver safety, health and well being.
We are going to look at a couple of points on how to stay healthy on the road. These could assist you with staying on top of your DOT Physical Examination.
Effects of sitting down for extended periods of time.
There are a couple things that come to mind that you want to avoid when you are sitting for extended periods of time. One of which that could lead to a serious emergency is a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). This is a blood clot that someone who is sitting down for an extended period of time can develop behind the knee or further along the leg. The blood clot will feel like a lump and can also give you a warm burning sensation. This is something you do not want to have before your DOT physical exam.
They should not be taken lightly either. If part of the blood clot breaks it could go into your lungs creating a pulmonary embolism or to your brain and cause a stroke.
The most obvious way to avoid this is to walk and get some blood flow through those legs. I know you are thinking well how am I going to start walking when I’m pulling a load.
The answer is, you probably won’t, but take advantage whenever you can to move those legs. Even if you are doing a couple of laps around a lot.
There is something that you can wear while on the road to help prevent this. Consider wearing compression stockings. Compression stockings help with circulation and leg health especially if you have a history of a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), edema (Swelling) Lymphedema (Swelling in the lymph).
The compression stockings will actually promote circulation and energize your tired achy legs.
As far as supplements or medicines to take while on the road, you should talk to your doctor and let them know about your line of work. They may recommend something as simple as a baby aspirin or maybe a small dose of a blood thinner. Your doctor will also be able to give recommendations that are tailored to your lifestyle in helping pass the DOT physical exam.
If you suspect having a DVT, this is something that you would need to go to an Emergency Room for and have an ultrasound to diagnose. This is obviously something everyone wants to avoid or want to have to talk about when you’re in your DOT physical examination.
How to make Healthy Food Choices
DOT Physical Exams can reflect what kind of food you have been eating. Road food can bring some difficult choices, especially if your only stops are at truck stops. Some of the ways you could avoid those difficult choices of eating something off a hot roller is to park at a Walmart or if you are in the South East find a Publix. The variety of food is abundant at those kinds of locations and generally easy to park.
Most of the time if you park at these kinds of stores there are different restaurants in the area or at least across the road in walking distance. Utilize the Yelp app to see your options for restaurants. This app gives you an inside look at what restaurants are in the area, how good they are, and recommended food. You will be able to see the food and get a feel for what kind of cuisine you will encounter. With the DOT physical examination in mind, you may be able to see menus that would be easier to make healthier choices before you commit and walk into a restaurant.
Go ahead and set a goal of what you want to eat from looking at the Yelp app and stick with it.
Some of the more well-known truck stops are starting to notice that more truckers would like to make better choices when it comes to food and are producing a nutritional value spreadsheet for truckers.
This only reveals the nutritional value of different items. It doesn’t really mean they are giving a healthy variety of food.
The king of the calories and high sugar seems to be the soft drinks. Avoid these sugary beverages! I find myself sipping on these sugary treats for hours on end. Just stop buying them.
There are also drinks that seem better for you but are about as bad if not worse as the soft drinks, work out drinks. A single 44 oz sports drink like Gatorade Fruit Punch can contain 330 Calories, 615 mg Sodium and 84 grams of sugar! This is a drink designed for athletes, not guys to sip on while cruising down the highway.
That amount of sodium can raise your blood pressure and the amount of sugar can lead you to diabetes. If your blood pressure is high and your blood sugar is high it will be very difficult to nearly impossible to pass the DOT Physical Exam.
An alternative option is to try some of the little squirt flavor enhancers that you can put in bottles of water. Be careful, there are some that give you more energy by adding in heaps of caffeine, this will not help you pass the DOT Physical Exam and that’s not what I am talking about.
I am referring to some of the 0 calorie flavor enhancers that taste like coconut or pineapple. They are actually very good. I get a couple of different flavors, it takes 2 seconds to squirt the enhancer into the bottle and I’m good to go.
Less sugar and caffeine intake will help in the long run of passing your DOT physical examination.
If you haven’t noticed we all have gotten used to eating massive amounts of food without burning massive amounts of calories and for trucker portions, this may be slightly bigger than normal. Starting to track the number of calories we are actually burning in one day vs how many we are taking in can be very impressive. This may be something as easy as using an app on your smartphone. Anything that will help you pass your DOT physical exam that is simple, easy and ethical I am all about.
I have heard from some people that have seem to have lost weight of a technique they have been using. At first, I thought it sounded pretty crazy but now I understand how it works. What they are doing is basically skipping breakfast then eating at lunch and dinner. They are intermittent fasting.
Basically, they are giving their bodies a chance to reset, you can get more information about this on youtube. I definitely feel lighter since I have started.
It turns out there are actually health benefits to this. It helps with sugar levels, regeneration of cells in your body, blood pressure, and cholesterol. It also can help with losing weight! Those are all great things when passing the DOT physical exam.
This is one of the easier options when it comes to food intake. I have simplified it to only eating lunch then making sure that my dinner is my last meal for the day. At first, you have some cravings, then after a couple of days, you are pretty well used to it. Just use the thought of you passing your DOT physical exam as motivation to push through the first couple of days.
You Can Do It!
I know these are kind of brief situations but they could help you out. I don’t think it is about going to the gym every day and being at the top of your physical peak at every moment. I think it’s a great idea to keep healthy so when you retire you have a life to look forward to.
A lot of these little techniques will not only help with passing your DOT physical exam but they will most likely start to make you feel good.
Be good to your body because we only get one and drive safe.
About the Author
This blog is from Dan Casey of Status Transportation and is solely based on his opinion. If you have a medical concern please see a doctor. He is not a doctor.
He has had 12 years of Clinical Emergency Medicine experience having worked at a level one trauma center in the Emergency Department before getting into the trucking industry. After joining the trucking industry he started to make some connections on some health concerns to look out for due to the nature of the trucking industry and passing standardized health examinations like the DOT physical exam.