Truck Driver Health Issues and How to Avoid Them


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Truck driving is an exciting and interesting job, many people are attracted to it as to a profession of freedom and adventure, and this is true. However all this comes with challenges and sacrifice just like other jobs. There are lots of risks associated to this profession – stress, improper nutrition and lack of exercising. All these are impacting directly truck driver’s health.

Did you know what are the most common truck driver health issues?

Stress –  an inevitable thing in many jobs while truck driving is not an exception.There are quite a few sources of stress i.e. insufficient sleeping, low customer service received at pickup/drop off locations, short deadlines, traffic incidents, bad or old equipment and so on.

Obesity – unhealthy diets. Sometimes there is no time to cook or drivers are too tired for this. The easiest thing is to buy frozen food and warm it up in the microwave, alternatively there are tons of fast food locations along U.S. Highways. This obviously leads to accumulation of fat in your body.

Depression and isolation – the lack of communication and long periods away family and friends can potentially lead to depression.

Our health is the most important thing in life and we should definitely care about it or at least not ignore it. You may not be surprised but it’s sure worth mentioning that statistically the number one problem among truck drivers is obesity.

According to National Institute of Health more that 50% of truck drivers are obese compared to the national rate of 26.7 %. Part of that study reports that 54 % of commercial drivers smoke cigarettes and only 8 % exercise.
According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – 88 % of the surveyed drivers said they had at least one risk factor — high-blood pressure, smoking, obesity, etc., compared to 54 % of the general U.S. adult working population.

Based on above we can conclude that commercial truck driving is a group of risk exposed to serious health dangers and there is a stringent need for national programs which could hopefully motivate trucking companies to do a little bit more for their people. Obviously you would say that all other industries involve professional health risks, and we would not argue with this. The question here is about us, truck drivers and what we can do to improve our lives.

According to a recent study done by Warwick University ‘happiness leads to an increase in productivity by 12%, while unhappy employees proved to be 10% less productive’. Happiness strongly depends on truck drivers health and a comfortable work environment. This fact suggests a firm economical reason for companies out there. A reason to think through and consider any opportunities for improving the work environment and promoting a healthy lifestyle among their drivers. This may bring considerable gain for both drivers and in the end the overall company profits.

There are a lot of tips which can help drivers stay healthy and set up a right lifestyle. Obviously this mostly depends on the truck drivers themselves, however it is important that the trucking companies support and promote a healthy lifestyle and a good employment environment and this is critical.

The important part is to start with ourselves. Do things we are in control of. Things like eating healthy food, exercising, getting enough sleep, balancing our vacations schedule and not the least important staying happy.

How to eat healthy when on the road?

To start the truck needs to be minimally equipped for cooking. Have things like a cooker or a microwave to be able to prepare the food, some drivers even buy small grills to grill vegetables and steaks. Many transportation companies do equip their trucks with minimal cookware, but some don’t. For Owner operators it is a bit different, they have to cover these costs themselves. Anyhow, it is indeed a valuable investment and a good start towards a healthier leaving.

The Diet

There are multiple online resources and even youtube cooking channels which will teach you exactly what to do to get a delicious and healthy meal. One interesting article we ran across was published by www.driveforprime.com. In THIS ARTICLE they’ve put together a good collection of ideas for healthy food on the road.

We have researched and put together a collection of top 7 restaurants/eateries where truck drivers can find healthy food for their happy lunch or dinner. Definitely worth checking it out when you have a moment.

We have also listed below a few popular youtube channels where you can watch short cooking videos of healthy recipes, you may also surf the youtube and find the channel which fits you most there are hundreds of channels out there.

Healthy Cooking on Youtube

Clean and Delicious
Fit Men Cook
Healthy Nut Nutrition

The main principle behind any healthy diet is to balance out the ingredients. A Harvard study has published an interesting illustration which shows the recommended distribution of ingredient ratios  “healthy eating pyramid”. Study this illustration and come back to it every once in a while. It helps!

 

*image by: www.hsph.harvard.edu

Exercising

Long hauls involve seating for long periods of time, from this the truck drivers may suffer from back pain, legs, arms and hands pain. But how to avoid these?

It is not that complicated, but it takes some discipline and effort to establish the habit/routine of daily 15 mins exercising. Yes, 15 minutes. It seems like a little, but many truck drivers find it hard to dedicate such time to exercising.

Exercising could be a good walk, stretching hands and legs or even perform a series of exercises right in front of your truck or even inside the sleepers. Planks, pushups, and abdominal crunch are things which could be done inside the sleeper cabin.  A good set of 5 stretching techniques can be found HERE. Another way to exercise if you like could be some dancing, switch on your favorite song and dance a little bit, it might look awkward but this will help to get you in a good shape while leading to a great mood as well while you’re doing it.

Sleeping issues and useful tips

Being able to get enough sleep is critical in trucking. Every truck driver knows about fighting fatigue behind the wheel. Every truck driver has his own ways, some common methods are drinking lots of coffee, driving with open windows or listening to loud music. But this is not a long term solution, and in long term the lack of sleeping could lead to exhaustion and depression.

According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigue was a critical factor in 13% of all accidents involving large, commercial vehicles. A “critical factor” means that the accident likely would not have happened without this factor. Since there can be several causes for every accident, the study tried to focus on what put the vehicles on a course that made the collision unavoidable. One in four truckers says he has fallen a sleep while driving in the last month, and the average hours of sleep in long haul trucking is around 5 hours. This is way below the minimum required sleep for adults (7-8 hours).

Truck Driver Sleeping Tips and Tricks

  • Take a nap if you feel tired. A perfect healthy nap of 45 minutes will completely reset your forces and give you a super boost for good hours of driving. Try this out, it works!
  • Use your reset hours at full, even if it’s during the day. Have enough sleep to get ready for your next driving cycle.
  • Avoid eating heavy food before going to bed, it will make it harder for you body to get a good amount of rest.
  • Another way to protect yourself is to use sleep alert devices while driving. Here you can find a good list of most popular sleep alert devices for truck drivers.

*image by www.en.softonic.com

We hope you have learned something new for yourself or at least thought a bit through important things for yourself. If you find this article useful, please give us a like to let others know!
Drive HEALTHY and HAPPY!

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