We’ve all heard a story or two. An older truck driver unexpectedly feels a tightening in his chest and difficulty breathing. But in this case, it isn’t a heart attack.
Said trucker goes to his doctor upon returning home and is told he has a blood clot in his lungs, three clogged arteries, and a serious heart condition. Doctors immediately put stents in his arteries and a defibrillator and pacemaker in his chest.
And while this man survived, from that moment on he was at a serious risk for another heart attack. In short, his truck driving career was over. While he seemed physically fit, was he in fact not taking proper care of his body?
Ask any truck driver and he or she will likely tell you that they don’t take as good care of themselves as they would like. It’s not the job. Truckers love what they do and trucking isn’t the only career where you spend a long time in a seated position. Even so, focusing on health and holistic matters isn’t in trucker DNA.
Truck drivers are the swashbucklers of the road. Yet a recent study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that 69 percent of truck drivers were obese, 54 percent smoked, and 88 percent reported at least one health risk factor, such as hypertension or diabetes. For the average American worker that final number is only 54 percent.
The fact that more than half of all truck operators in the United States are now over 45 years old further compounds the problem. When you combine health neglected with an aging workforce, health risk factors only get worse.
Time for Action
According to a recent survey completed by Stay Metrics, thirty percent of truck drivers feel their career is taking a toll on their health. But don’t worry, as we’ve said before, trucking is a great career. Those same drivers report that they aren’t changing or leaving jobs for health reasons.
One explanation could be that many truck drivers don’t put health at the top of their priority list. Numbers like these should be a wakeup call for the trucking industry. Wellness training and related health services should be at the top of any fleet benefits list.
There are a number of ways that truck drivers can keep their health in mind. From a better diet to more physical activity, it isn’t hard to be a healthy trucker.
We want to back up for a moment and be clear in saying we aren’t generalizing all truck drivers. A great many are health-conscious and diet-wise. Healthy truckers also understand that maintaining a proper body goes hand-in-hand with maintaining a sound mind.
Just as one would exercise their body, it’s important to also exercise the mind. Keeping a journal, for instance, would help correlate unhealthy eating habits with unnecessary emotional needs.
While many truck drivers are self-motivated in their healthy endeavors, fleets must still do their part in helping their employees sustain a healthy lifestyle. As health care costs skyrocket, companies need to find better ways to intervene early on.
Health and Wellness
As the landscape shifts towards a healthier lifestyle, corporate programs are appearing in a number of shapes and sizes. Depending on the size and nature of the organization, one wellness program may work where another might fail.
The choices are many. From onsite fitness centers to health clinics and nutrition boxes stashed away in cabs, fleets are getting creative. And just as truck driver training has gone digital, so can health and wellness training programs.
Another path is through biometric screenings and health planning consultations. Once a trucker’s baseline health has been gauged, a plan can be implemented. Wearable devices like Fitbits can be distributed to help keep track of the truck driver’s health goals.
While no one solution holds all the answers, one must always keep truck driver health in mind. We are the stewards of the road and our health should be handled accordingly. Mind your diet, stay active, and be innovative; be a healthy trucker.