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Monday, 18 February 2013

The importance of being a healthy driver

Long weekends and long drives quite often go hand in hand. Occasions like family day afford us excellent opportunities to seek retreat away from the rush of the every day, and to find rest in a new landscape. Of course, we know that planning for a safe drive becomes even more important as we intend to spend more time on the road—after all, nothing will kill the balm of a long weekend like a damaged vehicle, injuries, and a costly insurance claim. However, one often overlooked aspect of road safety is the health of the driver. Our ability to make the best judgments and to react to situations swiftly is most certainly tied up in our physical state. In this way, protecting your health as a driver on long trips is a kind of insurance in and of itself. Here are a few areas that deserve your attention in this regard:

Stay hydrated. It is so easy to overlook the importance of this advice because of how often we hear it, and because of how many ailments it is prescribed for. However, this really is of utmost importance. Long road trips already have the ability to lull you into a bit of a daze if you happen to come under the spell of road hypnosis, so you don't need to compound that with the drowsiness that ensues as a result of dehydration. The best way to stay alert is to stay hydrated. Be sure to have plenty of water in your vehicle (both in the cabin and in the trunk) to meet this need. Some avoid proper hydration because of the worry of the discomfort they may feel when they have to void, so plan your stops ahead of time. Figure out where the bathrooms are along your route so that this doesn't interfere with your ability to stay hydrated.

Stay nourished. As much as we love Tim Horton's, we also recognize that the coffee-dependent culture that we operate in makes it easy for us to forgo the long, stable flow energy we get from proper nutrition in favour of a caffeine jolt. That might do for a quick ten minute zip to your workplace, but for a longer trip, you'll crash on that alone. (Moreover, caffeine is a diuretic which will work against your goal of staying hydrated). Pack snacks that are high both in nutrients, and in fibre. Cut fruit, and bran muffins are great options. These will release sugars into your bloodstream more slowly, giving you a stable store of energy, which in turn will prevent you from crashing.

Fight nausea. One of the most common ailments associated with long car rides is motion sickness. If you are not driving, gravol is an easy remedy for this. However, this is not a suitable course of action for drivers because of the drowsiness it induces. Instead, follow these tips to beat motion sickness:
  • Eat small portions more frequently
  • Bring lemon water. While gingerale is the beverage that comes to mind for most when thinking of ways to soothe an upset stomach, a cleaner, sugar-free alternative is lemon water. Drinking freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with water can go a long way to settle you.
  • Eat ginger candies
  • Try to include protein in your snacks and meals throughout the day, as this can combat nausea well.
  • Have a store of crackers or rice cakes, as these can often fight nausea quickly.
  • Have a backup driver in the vehicle with you if you know you are prone to motion sickness, and know when to hand over the keys.

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