Roadside Attractions

Overdrive Staff | July 01, 2011

Reduce stress with meditation

Meditation isn’t a complicated practice mastered only by a few. Approached methodically, meditation can reduce stress and increase a sense of well-being for anyone, says Elizabeth Harper, a nurse, yoga instructor and author of “Wishing: How to Fulfill Your Heart’s Desires.”

Meditation can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, pain and depression. It also can improve concentration, sleep and immunity to infection. Try integrating meditation into your pre-driving routine, and repeat whenever possible:

1. Sit upright in a comfortable position and close your eyes.

2. Empty your lungs, then take a deep breath through your nose and into your belly. Hold this breath for a few seconds and then breathe out through your mouth. Deep breathing will help you relax and go deeper into meditation.

3. Focus on a sound or on your breath. Your breathing should normalize as you begin to feel a sense of peace.

For more of the interesting and odd parts of trucking, visit Senior Editor Todd Dills’ Channel 19 blog at

Different strokes

After 18 years out of the water, Indiana resident Siphiwe Baleka could no longer resist a first love: competitive swimming. “It was something I decided: Let me see if I can be a long-haul truck driver and compete,” says Baleka, who sought out YMCAs for his training.

Prime owner-operator Siphiwe Baleka won national swimming championships this year and is a driver fitness consultant.

Leased to Prime Inc., the owner-operator won championships at the 2011 U.S. Masters Swimming Spring Nationals in Mesa, Ariz., on April 29. Baleka, 40, placed first in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events.

At 10, Baleka was already a champion swimmer in his home state, Illinois. In addition to playing multiple sports as a teen, he competed nationally in swimming. In college, he was on Yale University’s swim team.

Taking initative is not unsual for Baleka, who changed his name from Tony Blake several years ago after he renewed ties to his African heritage. Consulting firm Fitness Trucking (, which he started last year, offers advice on nutrition, exercise and weight-loss plans for long-haul drivers. “For most truck drivers to be successful in any kind of nutrition or fitness program, it has to be convenient and it has to take little time,” he says. “What I teach most truck drivers is how to do a workout right outside of your truck, because you can do that anywhere.”

For starters, Baleka says, replace soda with water, eat every three hours so the body’s metabolism doesn’t slow down, and exercise at least 15 minutes a day.

Accidents are caused by driver fatigue, Baleka says.

“Just like you have to have a maintenance plan for the truck, you have to have different strategies for how to be a successful businessman,” he says. “You have to have some kind of plan for how you’re going to stay in shape on the road.”

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