For the last 22 years, James Bright has sat behind the wheel every single day. Driving has since become part of his life that he stopped complaining about the daily routine to his employers.
Much as he is aware that driving, which involves sitting for long hours has an impact on his health, Bright says avoiding adverse negative effects such as gaining excess weight that results from eating fatty foods along the way depends on the training you received at driving school.
“When I am going to drive for a long distance, I eat very little rice and beans, fruits and digestive biscuits. I wash it down with a bottle of water that I sip at desired intervals while driving,” Bright advises.
He adds: “When you eat a heavy meal, you are likely to doze or even sleep. Your concentration levels also shrink and the end result would be causing an accident.” Eating heavy meals, Bright opines, is sometimes due to lack of knowledge about its consequences and that it is also dependent on whom you are travelling with and their eating habits.
For every two hours of maximum concentration on the road, Bright recommends parking by the roadside or under a shade to have atleast a 15 to 20 minutes break of stretching, easing himself and light jogging to stretch the internal body organs.
Foods to avoid
Hope Nimurungi, a freelance nutritionist in Bweyogerere, advises that to drive safe and sound on the road, eat more of animal and plant proteins because they are what your body needs to use its energy to function better.
“Proteins do not only help you stay alert but they help you stay satisfied for a long time without the need to eat again. They promote energy metabolism which is what your body requires when driving,” Nimurungi explains.
She suggests eating boiled eggs, yoghurt, soya beans, groundnuts, simsim, fruits such as paw paw and yellow bananas and fresh juices. These, she reasons, keep your brain alert, sharp and awake for long especially when driving at night. Carrots too, when eaten regularly in their raw and fresh form, she adds, help keep your vision sharp.
Most often, roadside foods such as roasted cassava and chapatti are hard to drive past. When you eat these when driving, Nimurungi says, they may cause dozing as they are rich in sugars and carbohydrates that affect brain functionality or concentration.
Dr Kezekia Tumwebaze Kibirigyi of Rainbow City Hospital says long distance driving is mainly associated with muscle and brain fatigue which leads to excessive physical tiredness. For the men, sitting for long distances while driving causes a lot of heat especially in the genital area and that this, in the long run, affects your sexual performance.
“You need to keep making stopovers whenever you feel tired to stretch. Even when time does not allow, take off a few minutes to skip a rope and jog. This helps to stretch your muscles and increase blood flow in the body especially the neck and legs,” Dr Tumwebaze advises.
In common occasions, long distance drivers especially those who drive buses use energy drinks such as Redbull and Rock Boom to keep alert. Yes, they may serve the intended purpose, but according to Tumwebaze, these pose a threat to your health and life.
“We do not recommend energy drinks because there is no research that has proven that they are effective. They contain sugars and caffeine that increase the risk of hypertension if you are already hypertensive,” Tumwebaze cautions.