Get moving, get fit

| July 03, 2007

Owner-operator John Shook incorporates an exercise routine into his Fit for the Road program. He’s working his upper body using weight resistance from simple rubber tubing attached to the front of his truck.

Fit for the Road is a yearlong program designed to raise awareness among truckers about obesity. Five truckers were selected from more than 350 applicants to participate in the program. They received a full medical checkup by Dr. John McElligott of Professional Drivers Medical Depots, a healthy diet plan by registered dietician Pam Whitfield and a custom exercise regime by fitness expert Linda Dunn. At the mid-way mark, all five participants have made tremendous progress, which you can follow at this site.

The program is sponsored by Truckers News, Marten Transport and Bibby Financial Services.

Just six months ago, Nancy Younger, an owner-operator from Kathleen, Fla., weighed 292 pounds, wore a 28W pant size and had dangerously high blood sugar.

Dr. John McElligott, the physician for the Truckers News Fit for the Road program, prescribed five minutes of walking per day for Younger and the other four overweight participants. His instructions included gradually adding more minutes to the regime.

Today, Younger walks/runs three to four miles a day – every day. She’s also lost more than 55 pounds, and her blood sugar is stable, her blood pressure good, and she’s excited to report that she’s in a size 20W and is even eyeing the styles on the size 18W rack.

Getting in shape means more than just following a healthy diet plan. Adding a fitness regime is the only way to continue the quest to achieve a healthier lifestyle. The five participants in the Truckers News Fit for the Road program have made stunning progress toward the goals they’ve set for themselves.

Healthy eating
The program began on New Year’s Day with a complete diet overhaul. Eating healthier on the road has been the biggest hurdle. It’s hard to make the right choices when food selection is limited by high-fat/calorie menus. Registered dietician Pam Whitfield designed custom meal plans for the five truckers after reviewing food diaries they’d kept over the weeks leading up to the program. Her philosophy is a sensible approach to dieting that doesn’t involve fast fixes or trendy food combinations. Choosing smaller portions, eating three healthy meals per day and adding low-calorie, nutritious snacks between meals seems like it’s almost too easy. But as the five Fit for the Road truckers found out, it means changing how they go about their day.

Once they decreased calories and fat, the pounds began slipping off. The next step was to add a fitness routine to add strength and flexibility and aerobic activity to increase both weight loss and heart health.

Getting started
A good fitness evaluation is the first step to beginning any new fitness routine. Most health clubs or YMCAs will offer this service.

Linda Dunn, a fitness expert from Tuscaloosa, Ala., works with clients to develop a fitness program that’s realistic yet challenging. She met with Younger and John Shook to evaluate their current level of fitness and devise a routine to help them continue their progress.

The two-hour process included measuring height, weight, blood pressure and Body Mass Index. Other measurements included waist to hip ratio, sit-and-reach flexibility, the push-up test to measure muscular endurance, and a one-mile run/walk with heart rate measurement before and after the tests.

Next, Dunn showed them simple exercises using Xertube – inexpensive rubber tubing with handles to use for strengthening and muscle conditioning. She added some easy stretches to improve flexibility. Key activities she wants Shook and Younger to work on include abdominal exercises, hamstring stretches, and chest and shoulder strengthening.

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