Truck Driver Health and Wellness:
|As a professional truck
driver who sits most all day driving, you face health and wellness
challenges. But there are things you can do to achieve fitness and
money saving goals at the same time. We
will be elaborating on a number
of them on this and linked pages.
The first thing you need to acknowledge is the risk involved with being a truck driver. It does no good to you or your home support team to deny the physical demands of driving a truck professionally or the toll that these demands place on your body.
For Those Who Sit on the Job
In The Whartons' Stretch Book, Jim and Phil Wharton devote an entire section to driving. They described a client who hobbled into their clinic who was so "locked up" that he couldn't move his head from side to side. He had driven a car from Los Angeles to New York in record time, but it hurt him in what they called "a classic overuse injury – of the entire body."
"The sitting position puts more stress on your lower spine than standing. And, no matter how ergonomically designed and seemingly comfortable your seat is, your back, hips, legs, and buttocks are going to fatigue and tighten up if you don't give them a break. Whether you are driving a passenger car, an eighteen-wheel rig, or a high-performance race car, remember to MOVE occasionally."
On their "Truck Driver Safety and Health" page, the CDC stated,
||"Truck drivers face a disproportionately high risk for fatal crash-related injuries and for serious health disorders. ... Some research associates the risk of crash-related deaths with job-related fatigue. Other studies suggest that the risks of cancer, heart attacks, and other disorders may be associated with aspects of long-haul driving such as loading and unloading cargo, irregular schedules, long hours of driving, a sedentary lifestyle, and the nature of drivers' food choices on the road."|
One issue of EHS Today ("The Magazine for Environment, Health and Safety Leaders") stated
"Certain occupations, such as truck driving or nursing, are particularly hard on the back. The truck driver must contend with sitting for long periods of time (worse for the back than standing), the vibration of the vehicle and lifting and straining at the end of the day, when muscles are fatigued and more susceptible to damage. Football, gymnastics and other strenuous sports can also damage the lower back."
It was very unsettling to read an article stating that commercial truck driving is the ninth deadliest job due to work-related incidences, but could possibly be the deadliest when "heart complications, blood clots, and other sedentary lifestyle related abnormalities were factored in." (Read more about death and dying as a trucker.)
What Truckers Can Do About Their Health
Ok, that's the bad news. The good news is that there is something you can do as a professional truck driver about your own health and wellness. The question is: will you?
It has often been said that there are two types of people:
Consider the following truckers health scenario (which may not be uncommon for a professional driver): You've just finished a grueling day of battling slowdowns due to traffic, weather and construction, not to mention being detoured because of an accident. You finally arrive at your consignee where you drop your trailer and go to bobtail parking for your 10-hour break. The very last thing you feel like doing is stretching and eating a healthy meal. You can either succumb to being tired (allowing your occupation to dictate your lifestyle) or take just a few minutes to do something good for your own health and wellness.
If you don't do something good for your body, who will?
Some professional drivers are more accustomed to doing physical exercises than others. One driver whose truck we saw had a trucker bike on the back of his tractor. Evidently, he rides as part of his health and wellness regimen.
In case you're wondering, neither of us grew up in households where exercise was highly valued. It has always been challenging for us to incorporate any kind of exercise regimen in our lives, especially as professional drivers.
Team drivers have an even more intense challenge because they can roll their rigs down the road around the clock, leaving limited time and even more limited space for health and wellness concerns.
Aspects of Trucker Health
Plan to join us as we provide more information on these topics in the days to come:
We have a 7-page section on our site including trucker health and these sub-pages:
Please note that some of these health and wellness issues may affect some truck drivers but not others, yet a few may be common to all of us who earn our paychecks by driving trucks professionally.
By virtue of their gender, female truckers have some unique money saving challenges on the road.
Money saving tip: Unless they are sick, many people tend to take their health and wellness for granted. After all, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," right? The problem with that kind of thinking is that even though something "ain't broke" right now, there are cumulative effects.
Today's pack of cigarettes, lack of exercise, or choice of "chocolate milk and a honey bun" for a meal instead of nutritious food may not hurt you today. But they can take a toll on you eventually. Have you priced the cost of medical care following a stroke, heart attack or cancer recently?
You do preventive maintenance on your truck, right? Why not do what you can for your own health and wellness to reap the same kind of benefit in your body? Long after you retire your truck, hopefully your body will be going strong.
If you're like most professional drivers, you don't have the time – nor are you home often enough -- to take advantage of a gym membership. But you don't need one! You can do body weight exercises that take very little or no equipment whatsoever. You can achieve your fitness and money saving goals at the same time.
Do you have a great idea about health and wellness for truck drivers -- especially one where they can save money in the process? Share it!
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