Everyone knows how vital it is that we take care of our hearts. But for professional taxi drivers this can be even more important. After all, it’s not just your life at stake but also your passengers and other road users, too.


That’s why the team at Taxi Insurer has put together this article with a special focus on heart health tips for taxi drivers. Unfortunately, life on the open road can come hand-in-hand with a fast-food diet, long periods of inactivity, and stress — which can all lead to heart disease according to the NHS.


Researchers say that those who drive for a living (such as taxi drivers) are more at risk of heart disease than other occupations such as office or industrial workers. That’s why we’ve gathered together some helpful, heart-healthy tips with cabbies in mind.


Taking care of your heart is only one part of keeping safe on the roads. Having the right insurance for taxis in place is also a vital part of your armoury.



Why do I need a healthy heart?


While driving doesn’t require a lot of physical activity, there are some important reasons why you need to make sure your heart stays healthy. Many symptoms associated with heart disease, such as dizziness and faintness, will make it difficult for you to drive your taxi safely.


Indeed, in a worst-case scenario, you could even suffer a blackout, heart attack or stroke. If this happens while driving, it could put not only your life, but those of your passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians at risk.


And it isn’t just the health and safety risks, it could also severely affect your business. According to the British Heart Foundation if you begin to have heart problems then you might need to stop driving for weeks. Prevention is much better than cure when it comes to heart problems.


Don’t let them get in the way of your business – taking care of your heart today means you’ll protect your business for the future.


You’re never too old or too young to begin. By taking steps now to improve heart health, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll start to feel better.


From increased energy levels, concentration and improved sleep to losing excess body fat, lowering your blood pressure and building leaner muscle, the benefits are almost endless.


Once you start, a heart-healthy lifestyle will soon become a habit – making it much easier to keep up.


A taxi driver putting their seatbelt on in their taxi


Top tips for a healthier heart



  1. Make healthy food choices


A common trap that drivers fall into when hungry on the road, is to grab something fast. But when you have little time and need to keep moving you can make bad food choices.


Fortunately, if you begin to think about your diet then you’ll soon find out that nutritious can be just as delicious. And, better yet, a healthy, well-balanced diet is probably the most important part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle.


Eating healthily will not only help you to cut down on calories and boost nutrition but could also save you some serious cash. Try these tips:


  • Ditch the fatty fry-up and instead eat fruit or porridge for breakfast.
  • Take the time to prepare your own healthy packed lunch. This gives you much better control over portion sizes as well as your fat, salt and sugar intake.
  • Increase the amounts of grains and vegetables you eat.
  • Make simple food swaps. For example, opt for reduced-fat or low-salt products. Swap that sausage roll for a banana!
  • Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
  • Rather than fizzy drinks or coffee, drink herbal tea.
  • Avoid fast food and unhealthy snacks – It might seem easy at the time but it’s full of saturated fat, sugar and salt.
  • Avoid eating late. We digest food slower at night.
  • If you do drink tea or coffee, say no to added sugar.



  1. Cut back on salt


While our bodies need salt to stay healthy, too much salt has been shown to increase blood pressure and put a strain on your heart. While the maximum recommended intake for salt is 6g a day, the average UK person eats around 8.1g.


Indeed, pressure group Action on Salt estimates that for every gram of salt removed from the average UK diet we could save over 4,000 lives each year!


Heart UK has a whole range of tips to help cut down on salt. These include:


  • Eating less ready-made and processed foods.
  • Reading food labels and choosing lower-salt options.
  • Giving your taste buds time to adjust to the reduction in salt.



  1. Quit smoking


The dangers of smoking are well known, but they’re still worth repeating. The Heart Research Institute UK estimates every year smoking causes nearly 20,000 UK deaths from heart disease. While the risk of heart attack is up to four times greater for smokers.


The great news is it’s never too late to quit. Giving up smoking immediately improves health as well as decreases some of these risks. While health benefits continue to build over time.


  • Just 20 minutes after giving up smoking, your resting heart rate will reduce.
  • After 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels in the blood will have dropped.
  • Within three months, the risk of heart attack drops and lung function improves.
  • In one year, the risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.


There’s a lot of support out there to help you quit. If you currently smoke, it’s a great time to stop. Find your local Stop Smoking Service here. With their help you’re three times as likely to quit for good!


A cigarette burning in a dark room



  1. Reduce alcohol intake


Too much alcohol can raise both your blood pressure and your weight and lead to greater risk of heart disease.


Guidance published by the UK Chief Medical Officers says men and women shouldn’t drink more than 14 units per week. And to keep health risks to a low level, this should be spread evenly over three days or more.


Excessive drinking can lead to a whole range of health issues, such as cardiomyopathy (damage to the heart muscle) and arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). Drinkaware has lots more useful information on reducing health risks from alcohol.



  1. Be more active during your breaks


The NHS recommends adults aged 19 to 64 should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. Or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity. There are so many ways to achieve this.


Regular exercise not only helps you to look and feel better, but it will also reduce your risk of heart failure, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer.


To get you started here are some simple exercises you can do outside of your vehicle while you’re on your break. Remember to start slowly if you’re new to exercising.


  • Take a brisk walk down the road.
  • Walk up and down sets of stairs.


For something a bit more strenuous that’ll make you breathe hard and fast try:


  • Jogging on the spot.
  • Star jumps.
  • Side-to-side leaps.


It’s also important to include strength exercises in your daily routine. These are great for building stronger bones and to burn calories. Perfect for a driver who spends a lot of time sitting down:


  • Press ups.
  • Sit-ups.



  1. Get a regular health check-up


Just as you take your taxi in for a regular service and keep your taxi insurance up to date, your body also needs to be regularly checked over by a professional to make sure it’s running in tip-top condition.


Blood pressure and cholesterol levels are two vitally important things to check on a fairly regular basis.


There are often no noticeable symptoms associated with high blood pressure (hypertension). But if it’s left untreated it can pose a serious risk to your heart. The best way to know for sure is to check.


It’s recommended that all adults over 40 years of age should have their blood pressure tested at least every five years so any potential problems can be detected early.


Similarly, high cholesterol does not cause noticeable symptoms. However, too much of it can block blood vessels and make you more at risk of heart problems.


Remember, it's possible to have high cholesterol even if you're young, fit, and feel healthy. This is because your cholesterol levels depend on your genes as well as your lifestyle.


Anyone over 20 who smokes or has a family history of heart disease should have regular cholesterol screenings. Otherwise, women should begin having regular cholesterol checks when they reach 45. While men should start at 35.


If you’re found to have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, then it’s important to also check for diabetes.


Heart UK has more information on where you can get a cholesterol test.



  1. Keep track of health goals


If you’re serious about improving the health of your heart then it might be useful to keep a track on your health goals. For example, you could invest in a fitness tracker or download a free calorie counting app for your phone.


This’ll help you to measure your daily calorie intake and assess how much exercise you are taking.


While there are lots of technological aids, sometimes the old ways are the best. Are other taxi drivers you know trying to improve their health?


If so, why not try to link up and share your daily exercise goals on a WhatsApp group? Keeping motivated and on track is so much easier when you’re not alone.


A man cycling on a busy city street



  1. Chill out and de-stress


Following our guidance on how to make taxi driving less stressful could also help your heart health. Research published in the Lancet suggests that stress can be linked with heart disease.


While stress also exposes your body to increased levels of stress hormones, which can also be bad for your health. Indeed, researchers from Harvard University have even suggested it could be as important a risk factor as smoking or high blood pressure!


Clearly, we all deal with stress differently, but as taxi drivers there are ways you can manage it to reduce its impact on your health. From breathing exercises to staying fit there are many great ways to deal with stress.


While pleasurable at the time, comfort eating, smoking, and drinking alcohol are all tactics unlikely to reduce stress long-term or protect your heart.



  1. Don’t ignore sleep problems


Sleep is as vital to heart health as it is to any other area of your body and mind. With many hours spent behind the wheel in sometimes stressful driving situations, getting good, consistent shut-eye isn’t as easy as it should be.


Healthy adults require between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. According to some scientists those sleeping less than six hours a night have a 20% higher chance of a heart attack. Never ignore sleep problems.



  1. Keep and eye on driving hours


One of the key health tips for taxi drivers we recommend is keeping aware of the number of hours you’re working. Under UK rules, you must take a break of at least half an hour after driving for five and a half hours.


Or alternatively at least 45 minutes of breaks within a period of eight hours and 30 minutes. Working very long hours can soon lead to many negative effects on your health – including heart rhythm problems.



Protecting your business with taxi insurance


We understand that taxi drivers come under a whole range of pressures in their daily lives. That’s why the team of insurance specialists at Taxi Insurer is always looking to come up with ways to help.


The taxi insurance we can arrange comes in a broad variety of different forms and can cover everything from single vehicles to entire fleets. Public liability insurance and employers’ liability insurance can also usually be added.


In addition, we can offer no claims bonus protection, cover for minibuses and MPVs, and a 24-hour claims management service.


Get a quick quote for taxi insurance today.


Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.