With valentine’s day approaching, many of us often think of chocolates, flowers, and spending time with your partner. But what about your physical heart? Let’s shift gears for a moment and think about what we can do to make our heart happy. What can you do this valentine’s day to improve your heart health? We are giving you some top 5 things you can start implementing into your daily trucking life to be a keep a happy, healthy heart.
Many people correlate smoking to strictly lung issues. Such as lung disease, lung cancer, emphysema, COPD and so on. But no one seems to talk about the major toll it takes on your heart. Smoking not only increase your heart rate, but it can also cause permanent damage to your blood vessels, potentially leading to CVD (cardiovascular disease). This is caused by inhaling the cigarette smoke, which then contaminates the blood vessels with harsh chemicals and pumping that contaminated blood throughout your body. CVD is currently the leading cause of death in the US. However, it is never too late to quit! Give yourself something productive to do whenever you feel the urge to smoke, perhaps take up a new hobby or express your urges to friends and family to help stray you away. If you are over the road and you are getting that cigarette craving, allow yourself something else you enjoy. Tell yourself if you make it through your route without any cigarettes, you’ll buy yourself those new sneakers you wanted, or eat a piece of candy instead! It may also help to keep a calendar of how many days you have gone without smoking to keep motivated, you got this!
Eat Hearty Foods
When packing snacks for the road, some heart healthy but tasty options are dark chocolate covered almonds. The Journal of the American Heart Association, found that almonds, dark chocolate and cocoa significantly reduced the number of low-density lipoprotein particles in the blood. LDL is often called “bad cholesterol” because of the negative effects of clogging arteries!
Other snack options include crackers & hummus, nuts, raisins, veggies with greek yogurt, and apples with peanut butter, or any fresh fruit or vegetable! I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying before, an apple a day keeps the doctor away! Even though that might be a stretch, apples do provide great nutrients for your heart and body. They are a staple super food and will keep you full for longer, promoting weight loss.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, it is important to avoid foods with high fructose corn syrup, sodium, and salt. Try incorporating vegetables, whole grains and oily fish. When you’re on the road, It may seem like the options for healthy meals are very limited. A good fast food tip is to switch out any fried sandwich for a grilled sandwich instead. Fried food contains high levels of sodium and cholesterol, which overtime can lead to high blood pressure. Fast food chains like Mc’Donalds or Wendy’s sell a grilled chicken sandwich that has significantly less sodium and fat, making it a healthier option all around.
Prioritize your Mental Health
According to the American Psychological Association, People diagnosed with clinical depression are more than twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease or suffer a heart attack. In addition, people with a more stable mental health have healthier levels of fibrinogen and cortisol in their blood, which makes them less likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Clinical depression is very intense on the depression scale, if you are suffering, we highly recommend you consult with your doctor on a plan to get you on the right path!
Find an Exercise you Enjoy
Staying active for at least 30 minutes a day is key to a healthy heart. Exercising your heart means getting your heart rate up, and the best way to do that is cardio. Some effective cardio exercises that can be done on the road are jump roping, walking/running, and body weight exercises. If you have a gym you can stop by, even better! If your gym has a pool, swimming is an excellent form of cardio. Swimming works the majority of muscles in your body, while also burning a lot of calories and working your heart muscle. If you can’t seem to fit any of these in your schedule, even taking a 10-minute walk can be effective. Next time you’re at a truck stop, get out and walk around! But most importantly, make sure whatever form of exercise you choose is something you enjoy. Consistency is key! Working out here and there will not strengthen your heart. But consistently working out overtime for 5 days a week will, and whatever form of exercise that is, its up to you!
Prioritize Your Sleep Routine
Catching quality sleep can be difficult, not to mention how it is for truck drivers. Sleeping in a truck, moving or not is definitely something you need to take time to adjust to. If you are new to trucking, or have been struggling with your sleep lately, take these tips into consideration!
Invest in quality pillows and blankets
Sleeping in your truck may not be ideal, but make the most of it by investing in quality blankets and pillows. You will be surprised at the difference it makes! Even if you are a local driver and don’t sleep on the road, you will then look forward to coming home to your comfy bed and appreciate your sleep time more.
Use a sound machine
Something a lot of folks use to fall asleep is a sound machine. It plays calming noises helping put your mind at ease and into relaxation mode. It can also help cancel out any noise going on outside of your truck. It’s worth a shot!
Avoid electronics before bed
Studies have shown that using your phone before bed keeps your brain engaged and suppresses the melatonin levels in your brain, causing you to stay more alert and awake. Try reading a book, or plan out your day for tomorrow instead!
Even though Valentine’s day is a one day event, maintaining a healthy heart is a lifestyle. Take everything you learned from this blog into account that you must stay consistent! Your heart is a lifelong muscle that is working for you. Treat it right! With anything you wish to accomplish, consistency and hard work is key. As long as you don’t lose site of your goals or give up, you are golden. Slip ups will happen, but don’t let it affect your entire journey to healthiness.