Driver Health Issues
Driver health is a serious concern. Research shows that truck drivers are more likely to deal with health issues than the general population.
Obesity rates are two times higher among truck drivers. Drivers are more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes.
These health issues can cost a driver their medical license. Continued problems can lead to more serious health issues such as heart attacks.
Understanding the factors that lead to these health issues can help you make changes that help improve your health, even on the road.
Factors that Affect Trucker Health
The driver lifestyle makes it difficult to make healthy decisions. You spend long hours on the road with little opportunity for active movement. There are few exercise options while on the road and keeping up with hectic schedules.
Food options are limited, and the easiest options are often the unhealthiest options.
Sleep is also a factor that affects driver health. Drivers average 4 to 5 hours of sleep when on the road. Recommendations for healthy sleeping habits call for at least 7 hours. Even when not on the road, hectic schedules can keep you from a regular sleep schedule.
7 Tips to Combat Health Issues
While life on the road makes it difficult to make the best choices for your health, even small changes can go a long way toward improved driver health.
#1 Improved Eating Habits
The best change you can make is to eliminate or reduce sugary snacks and drinks while on the road. At truck stops look for healthier snack options.
More stations are offering healthier options such as cheeses, fruits, and vegetables. These options keep you full longer and reduce unhealthy substances in your body.
When looking for drink options, go for water over the sugary options. There are even flavored water options that still help reduce your sugar intake.
#2 Plan Ahead
Healthier eating may require some pre-planning. When possible, bring healthy food options with you so you aren’t tempted to grab whatever’s available.
You can also look for healthier options on your route. While it’s best to avoid fast food, that’s not always an option. When you need to make a fast food stop, look for the healthier options that are available.
#3 Regulate Meals
Large meals can cause sluggishness, and when on the road usually include unhealthy options. To keep your energy up, try eating smaller portions throughout the day instead of one or two heavy meals.
Options like turkey rolls, nuts, cheeses, and other healthy snacks are better for you than the burger and fries. If you can keep a cooler in your truck, you can bring these items with you and maintain healthier eating as you get hungry.
Keeping snack for smaller portions also keeps you from getting to a stop and being too hungry to make wiser choices.
#4 Reduce Caffeine Intake
Coffee and energy drinks seem like a great idea to keep you alert on long drives, but too much can impair your abilities. These caffeine-filled substances can also make it difficult to get to sleep when you need to.
If you do have caffeine, make sure it’s at least three hours before you need to get sleep. You also want to limit the number of caffeinated drinks to one or two cups a day.
#5 Take Time for Exercise
A quick 10–15-minute workout before getting back on the road can get your metabolism going. You don’t need any special equipment to get a workout in.
This can include a walk around your truck or parking lot, keeping weights in your truck for a simple weight routine, or any other activity that gets your body moving. There are also plenty of apps available to help you develop a workout routine using your truck as a workout space.
#6 Stretch Regularly
With the long hours on the road, your body can get stiff which can affect your reaction time. Regular stretching helps loosen the joints and reduces neck and back pain.
Stretching reduces the stress long hours of sitting can cause to your body. Whenever you make a stop, take some time to stretch out stiff body parts.
#7 Prepare for Sleeping
Sleeping on the road is not the best for restfulness. There are steps you can take to make your sleeping quarters more comfortable though.
Set up your sleep area to make it easier to get the sleep you need. Keep it as dark and quiet as possible. You might consider using white noise to drown out the noises that can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Make the Most of Your Driving Career
While it’s important to take control of your own health, there are many organizations working towards improved driver health. Many companies are implementing health and fitness programs to help drivers stay healthy and safe on the road.
If your company doesn’t offer a driver health program, talk to your safety manager about the benefits of these programs. It’s in their best interest to help keep drivers healthy.
Want more tips to make your driving career easier? Check out our driver tips and tricks for more useful resources.