The majority of the time, truck drivers are sitting behind the wheel, which can be detrimental to long-haul truck drivers’ mental and physical health.
Truck Driver Health Issues
According to a study in 2018 by the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
- seven out of 10 long-haul drivers were obese
- 17% were morbidly obese
- 14% had diabetes
- 22% took medications for high cholesterol
- More than half of drivers had two or more chronic health conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep loss.
Being a competitive truck driver goes beyond qualifications. Health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, cancer, joint and back pain, and stroke, can disqualify a person from receiving a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
To combat the health risks, activity and nutrition can make a difference. Regular exercise, such as stretching, walking, or doing simple workouts, can help keep their bodies active, reducing the risk of sedentary-related health issues.
Eating nutritious meals and staying hydrated are also crucial. Yes, it can be hard to plan meals and instead grab gas station snacks that might not be the healthiest, but planning could make it easier.
Pages such as Livestrong offer options and guidance for healthy eating on the go. Many drivers carry coolers or mini-fridges in their trucks to store fresh food and beverages, allowing them to make healthier choices on the road.
One of the most significant health risks for long-haul truck drivers is the sedentary nature of their job. Spending long hours sitting behind the wheel can lead to weight gain, muscle atrophy, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Truck drivers should incorporate physical activity into their daily routines to counteract these risks. Simple exercises like stretching, walking or jogging during rest breaks, or using resistance bands can help maintain muscle strength, improve circulation, and promote overall fitness.
Additionally, many truck stops now offer fitness facilities or walking paths, providing opportunities for drivers to engage in more rigorous workouts.
Healthy Eating Habits
Access to healthy food options can be limited for long-haul truck drivers, with fast food and convenience store meals often being the most readily available choices. However, maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for their health and well-being.
Truck drivers can proactively plan their meals and pack nutritious snacks such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and low-sugar granola bars. Carrying a small refrigerator or cooler in the truck can help store perishable items and ensure access to healthier options.
Additionally, making smart choices when dining out, opting for grilled or baked options, and avoiding excessive amounts of salt, sugar, and processed foods, can contribute to a healthier diet.
Sleep Hygiene and Restful Sleep
Irregular sleep patterns are a common challenge for long-haul truck drivers, who often have to work long hours and deal with changing schedules.
Sleep deprivation can have severe consequences, including fatigue, reduced concentration, and an increased risk of accidents. Truck drivers should establish a consistent sleep routine to prioritize sleep and create a sleep-friendly environment in their trucks.
Using blackout curtains, earplugs, and comfortable bedding can help create a more conducive sleeping environment. It is also important to avoid excessive caffeine intake and limit exposure to screens before bed, as these factors can disrupt sleep patterns.
Regular Health Check-ups and Preventive Care
Long-haul truck drivers often face challenges in accessing regular healthcare due to their on-the-road lifestyle. However, prioritizing preventive care is crucial for early detection and management of potential health issues.
Scheduling regular check-ups with healthcare professionals, including annual physical exams, eye exams, and screenings for conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, can help identify and address health concerns in a timely manner.
Utilizing telemedicine services can also provide convenient access to healthcare professionals for minor illnesses or concerns while on the road.
Truck Drivers Need to Work to Stay Healthy
Long-haul truck driving is not merely a job but a lifestyle requiring adaptability and mental fortitude. The job relies solely on a healthy work-life balance. By prioritizing physical and emotional well-being, long-haul truck drivers can find ways to stay sane and maintain their mental and physical health on the road.
Through a combination of personal strategies and the support of their communities, drivers can navigate the challenges of the open road and ensure that the goods they transport reach their destinations while staying healthy and safe.