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Back behind the wheel: Fitness for the brain

This month I am going to address brain health, which is a very important topic especially for the older truckers on the road. Road safety is definitely one of the major concerns of the trucking indust...

Dr. Christopher Singh

Dr. Christopher Singh

This month I am going to address brain health, which is a very important topic especially for the older truckers on the road. Road safety is definitely one of the major concerns of the trucking industry.

Drivers must be alert and aware of their surroundings at all times. Many of my patients say that one of the hardest parts about driving truck is the long and boring hours behind the wheel.

It is not uncommon for drivers to ‘zone out’ for hours at a time while driving on a long stretch of highway. The brain is like every other muscle in the body in the sense that if you don’t use it, you lose it. Therefore it is very important for truck drivers to keep their brains as active as possible. Fortunately, there are some simple techniques you can use to work on the fitness of your brain.

When people think about exercising and staying fit, they usually neglect to include their brain in their workout routines. However, the brain plays an essential role in almost everything that we do such as thinking, breathing, feeling, sleeping and playing sports.

Unfortunately, as we age, our brain function decreases due to altered connections between our brain cells. The good news is that by keeping the brain active, you can slow down this degenerative process thus increasing the brain’s vitality. It is important to stay curious and commit to lifelong learning.

I am not saying that you have to start doing difficult math problems but small changes in your everyday lifestyle such as reading, writing, working on crossword puzzles and playing memory games will have major effects on the health of your brain. Staying socially active is also very important for your brain.

As a result you may want to stay active at your workplace, volunteer in community groups and causes or join other social groups.

Staying physically fit is also very important for brain function as it will maintain proper blood flow to the brain as well as encourage the formation of new brain cells. Recent studies have shown that physical activity does not have to be strenuous.

In fact, light activity which is done regularly is most effective. What I recommend to most of my patients is to walk for 15-20 minutes most nights of the week.

In addition to exercising, eating a healthy diet will also help to maintain your brain fitness as you age. Like the heart, the brain needs the correct balance of nutrients such as protein and sugar, to function optimally.

A good brain-healthy diet is one which encourages good blood flow to the brain and is low in fat and cholesterol.

Maintaining a healthy body weight is also very important. In fact, people who are diagnosed with obesity are twice as likely to develop conditions like dementia later in life.

The best strategy to avoid this, is to adopt an overall healthy food lifestyle, rather that a short-term crash diet.

Concentrate on eating lots of fruits and vegetables and avoid fast foods which are usually loaded with fats and cholesterol.

A good place to start is when you stop for food next time, consider the soup and salad bar instead of the full buffet or a burger and fries.

As you can see, there are many things you can do to keep your brain fit and functioning at its best.

Try some of the hints outlined in this article and I am sure that you will feel more alert and sharp in no time. Until next time, drive safe!

– Dr. Christopher Singh, B. Kin., D.C., runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 519-421-2024.

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