Your job as a professional driver is largely sedentary and the hundreds of days a year spent behind the wheel can lead to habits that hinder your health and fitness. But, today, eating properly, exercising regularly and getting sufficient sleep are critical for more than just your personal well-being. Staying fit and healthy can also affect your ability to earn a living, due to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) Driver Fitness BASIC.

The good news is that by changing bad habits and being disciplined about it, you can greatly improve your overall health and fitness and help keep the nation’s highways safer for everyone.

Adjust Your Diet

Small changes in your eating habits can make a big difference to your health:

• Make smart food choices, including a nutritional breakfast every day. Avoid foods that are high in fat and calories and contain little or no nutritional value. A balanced diet made up of foods rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins is essential to the body performing at its peak efficiency. Read the foods’ nutritional data, whenever available, and watch your portions.

• Snack on fruits, nuts or protein bars. Just make sure you are snacking on a schedule and not randomly.

• Eliminate late night snacks. Research links late-night calories to the potential for weight gain.

• Eliminate high-calorie drinks and include water in your diet. Water is the best way to hydrate and clean out your body.

Make Time To Exercise

Exercise boosts your energy level and helps to reduce stress and the risks of disease. You can incorporate physical activity into a busy workday just by walking or performing basic exercises when you’ve stopped during a trip. The key to staying fit is keeping your heart rate elevated for at least 15 minutes a day.

Get Enough Sleep

Without sufficient sleep, most aspects of your driving performance suffer including judgment, decision-making, memory, reaction time and concentration. So, be sure to get about eight hours of restful sleep before driving on a long trip. This will require cooperation from family members, as well as careful planning of your driving schedule.

Take Responsibility

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle does not require a lot of time, but it does take commitment. If the right choices are made consistently, a healthy body will eventually follow.