Tips for the Road to a Healthy Driver
Truckers are known for a lifestyle of constant traveling in their hardy cabs. Every job comes with certain occupational hazards that can impact a worker’s health. However, truckers face a particularly challenging set of health concerns that result from the nature of the job. A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2015 found that truckers are not only prone to health complications, but also are likely to have multiple complications at once. The study found that about 69% of long-haul truckers struggled with obesity, 51% were regular cigarette smokers, and 27% only managed to get less than 6 hours of sleep each night; obesity, smoking, and lack of sleep are all connected to higher risks for chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. What is even more worrisome is that half of the participants reported having two or more of these concerns: diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol. Overall, the study found that multiple factors in the typical trucker lifestyle can lead to multiple long-term illnesses.
The good news is that your health is in your hands. Though the lifestyle of a trucker is by nature mostly sedentary, there are a lot of healthy habits you can develop to lessen your risk of illnesses and complications. We have listed some tips below that can help you get and stay in great shape!
- Quitting Smoking: Smoking cigarettes, and other tobacco usage, has been connected to health complications such as COPD and lung cancer when used heavily for long periods of time. Quitting is undoubtedly a difficult task for many, however there are many resources out there to help in the process if you decide to try. For resources on how to get started, check out this link.
- Incorporate Daily Exercise: You do not need to become a gym buff to reap the benefits of physical activity! Exercising for even just 15 minutes per day will aid in burning calories, building strength, and increasing your body’s endurance. To keep yourself on track, try setting daily reminders on your phone or smartwatch to take a few minutes to work out. Your exercise can be as simple as taking a power walk while on break, lifting some light weights or resistance bands (pack in your cab), or doing some stretching.
- Choose Healthy Foods: When you are on the road, grabbing fast food or a bag of chips at a gas station are tempting options. However, eating high fat or high sodium foods can increase your risk for high cholesterol and other health complications. Pack your cab with healthy options such as granola bars, fruits such as apples, nuts, or yogurt that you can reach for when you are feeling hungry. If you need to eat out, go over the menu for their lighter options when ordering.
- Stay Hydrated: Try to opt for water or electrolyte drinks over stimulants such as coffee or energy drinks. While the rush of energy may feel good, stimulants work quickly to dehydrate the body, and the mental awareness you may get is only temporary. Fueling your body with healthy foods and drinking water is actually a great way to keep your energy up without compromising your health.
- Do Not Skip Sleep: Sleep is essential for your safety on the road. A study conducted by the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that 34% of truckers have nodded off while driving. A trucker’s sleep is essential for mental health, physical health, and the safety of other drivers on the road. To better your sleep, work on developing a relaxing routine to unwind. Bring blackout curtains, comfy pillows, and unplug your devices to create a sleep-promoting atmosphere.
- Work on Posture: Sitting improperly for long hours will increase your chances of muscle and joint pain. Resist the urge to slump over in your chair. There are many pillows constructed just for truck seats that will not only correct posture but provide support to relieve any pain you might have already. Additionally, take the time at stops to move about and stretch to prevent muscle cramps.
- Apply Sunscreen: Excessive exposure to the sun’s powerful UV rays can cause premature aging to the skin, and in worst cases, skin cancers. Truck windows do not block UV light or protect your skin. Apply sunscreen to your face, neck, arms, and other exposed areas every morning. Be sure to reapply at least once or twice throughout the day to maintain the sunscreen shield.
- Do Not Neglect Mental Health: Driver burnout is real and difficult to go through. Truckers often feel immense pressure from the job, in addition to spending long hours alone, which can cause feelings of depression or anxiety. While on your hauls, take time to do things that make you happy. Call family and friends, get plenty of sleep, and do not overwork yourself when you are feeling unwell.
Your health is the most important concern for yourself and companies in the trucking industry. While it is easy to fall into an inactive and unhealthy lifestyle while spending hours per day driving, it is important to take care of yourself so you can keep trucking and stay happy. Incorporating these simple lifestyle adjustments can make an incredible impact on your health long-term. Keep your wellness in mind as you set off on your next adventure in your career with JobsInTrucks!