We’ve heard from several truck drivers who have adopted fitness plans on the road, but usually that is made up of running, walking, strength training, or some combination of those. Today, we’re talking to someone who takes a bit different of a route when it comes to trucker workouts.
Kevin McKague is a Michigan truck driver and father of three who takes a bike with him on the road. When he’s stopped or waiting to get un/loaded, Kevin explores the area and updates friends, family, and followers on his travels through his blog — 18 Wheels and a 12 Speed Bike.
Today, we talk to Kevin about his trucker workouts, health habits, and why it’s important to stay healthy on the road. Keep reading to hear what Kevin has to say about this hot industry topic.
When and how did you get started in the trucking industry?
I decided to become a truck driver in 2006, when I was 39, so it was definitely a mid-career shift for me. I had been in retail management since my college days, and had enough of it. I wanted something that offered more money and was recession-proof. Plus, I always loved to travel.
How did you begin your health/fitness journey? Did you start with small changes or just completely change your way of life?
I have always enjoyed bicycling, but after college, I had pretty much consigned the bicycle to the part of the garage behind the yard tools and children’s toys. When I became a truck driver, I was often frustrated by the fact that most truck stops seem to be built so far from civilization. I would often walk around during my breaks, but it wasn’t until I had the epiphany that if I removed the front wheel of my bike, I could store it on the passenger seat of the truck, that I really started to make a point to explore the areas my deliveries would take me to.
When I just started with my first trucking company, my mentor driver gave me several pieces of health advice that stuck with me. First of all, don’t wear sweat pants to work. He warned me that I’d gain weight due to the sedentary lifestyle of trucking, and that wearing sweat pants allows you to gain a lot of weight without really noticing it. He also advised against ever being one of those drivers that puts potato chip or bags of candy on the dashboard when you’re driving. Not only does it provide too much of a temptation to mindlessly eat junk when you’re driving but it’s a signal to weigh station officers and police that your truck is a mess, therefore your logbook is probably a mess too.
Once I started bringing my bicycle on board, my life took a healthy change for the better. My fitness routine, if you could call it a routine, is to constantly look for new places to park the truck, and to find time in my schedule where I can ride my bike. Trucking doesn’t offer too many opportunities for routines. The key is to always be looking for opportunities to do the things that are important to you, and to resist the temptation to allow the job to overwhelm your life.
What are the biggest successes/measurements of success you’ve seen since getting healthier?
Not only have I lost some weight and feel better, but I feel a lot less stress. Now when a stressful event pops up, instead of getting upset, one of my first thoughts is something like “there better be time later for a bike ride.” I can’t understate how much peace of mind riding gives me.
What tips do you have for people who want to get healthy on the road but aren’t sure where to begin?
I’d recommend to most drivers, especially those who are on dedicated routes and get home more often, to buy a cooler and stock their own healthy foods from home. Don’t eat at the truck stop restaurants. You’ll be healthier and save a ton of money.
What are your thoughts on people who don’t care or make excuses for not being healthy on the road?
Too many truckers get sucked into the trucker’s lounge at the truck stops, where Law and Order seems to be playing on the TV 24/7/365. Believe me, I know how truck driving can be exhausting. What I have found is that succumbing to the myth that all that over-the-road truckers have time for is work and sleep can add to that exhaustion. Life is short. If you work harder to squeeze every bit of life out of your time here on Earth, you will find that you actually have more energy, and will feel better. Even if you simply walk across the street to the restaurant a few hundred yards away from the truck stop, you’ll feel better than if you grabbed a hot dog off of the roller grill at the truck stop.
What changes do you think need to be made at truck stops to help promote a healthier lifestyle?
Some truck stops have taken steps to offer more healthy foods. It’s just a start though. Not too many people are willing to pay $2 for a banana, no matter how well intended they are to get healthy. This might be another case where individuals are going to take the reigns themselves to make their lives better. We shouldn’t be waiting for truck stops to make our lives better for us. That’s our job.
Are there any tools or products that have helped you with your healthy lifestyle on the road?
The only exercise equipment I keep on the truck are my bike and my bike helmet. I also use the MapMyRide iPhone app to measure my rides, and to allow me to share my adventures, travel and exercise tips with my social media followers.