HEALTHY TODAY | How to stay healthy on a road trip

HEALTHY TODAY | How to stay healthy on a road trip

HEALTHY TODAY | How to stay healthy on a road trip

Summertime is just around the corner, which inspires many Seattleites to hit the road for a glorious local getaway. It’s important to keep in mind a few ways to stay safe and healthy on the road.


Hydrate on the highways

As you set out on your adventure, make sure to stay hydrated for the miles ahead. Maintaining proper hydration keeps you cool in hot weather; helps prevent headaches caused by tension, fatigue and caffeine withdrawal; and ensures adequate blood flow to all your vital organs.

Keep a reusable water bottle by your side — this is the healthiest and cheapest way to hydrate. Other great options include low-calorie sports drinks, unsweetened iced tea and seltzer water.

Resist the urge to caffeinate with coffee or energy drinks, as these beverages dehydrate you by making you urinate more frequently.

And take regular bathroom breaks to maintain good bladder health.


Stimulate your circulation

As the miles on your odometer rack up, so do the number of hours spent sitting in your seat. To relieve tension in your body and restore circulation in your legs, make frequent stops to stretch and walk around outside the vehicle. Keeping the blood flowing in your legs helps prevent blood clots from forming in your deep leg veins, which can have serious medical consequences.

If you are unable to take a roadside break, here are a few easy exercises to try while sitting:

•Toe circles — Lift one leg off the floor a couple of inches and make small circular movements with your big toe. Do 30 seconds clockwise, and then 30 seconds counterclockwise. Repeat with the other leg.

•Heel raises — Press your toes into the floor, and then lift your heels off the floor a couple of inches. Hold for three seconds, and then lower your heels. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.

•Toe raises — With your feet flat on the floor, flex your toes up toward your nose. Hold for three seconds, and then lower your toes back to the floor. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions.


Be wary behind the wheel

Staying awake and alert during a road trip is imperative for safety. The night before your trip, get enough sleep to ensure you are rested when you set out for the open road. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep, and most adolescents need eight to 10 hours.

Alternate drivers if you can, and make sure everyone is well-rested and fully ready to take the wheel on the trip.

When cruising through wine country or checking out the local microbrewery, make sure to have a designated driver in your group. Drunk-driving fatalities still make up more than one-third of total traffic deaths in Washington state — don’t put yourself at risk.

If driving through remote or wooded areas, be vigilant for wildlife that can approach the road and cause a collision. In general, it is safer to drive during daytime hours, as many animals come out to forage at dusk or nighttime.


Jettison the junk food

When the only stops on the road are fast-food chains or convenience stores, it’s very easy to fuel your adventure with chips, candy and other high-caloric snacks. Consider these healthier alternatives, especially if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol:

•Low-sodium options, such as unsalted pretzels or popcorn, dried fruit and trail mix;

•Low-sugar, low-carbohydrate options, such as hummus with carrot and celery sticks, peanut butter, plain almonds and kale chips; and

•Low-fat options, such as apple slices, bananas, berries, string cheese and yogurt.

These steps will help you reach your destination safely and return from your vacation feeling refreshed.

DR. JAIME MOO-YOUNG practices internal medicine at Pacific Medical Center ( To comment on this column, write to