Truck in Sunrise

Long Haul Truckers Health Concerns

Heavy Trucks, On the Road | December 29, 2019

We see them every day on the road behind the wheel of a semi-truck delivering goods all across the U.S. Yes, we are talking about long haul truckers, one of the unhealthiest jobs in America. This is a major concern because trucking touches about just about everything that surrounds us. Whether it is the fruit you picked up at the store or the device you are reading this blog one. Every single product goes through the trucking industry. With that being said, something must be done to make one of the most important jobs in America, healthier. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 7 out of 10 truck drivers are obese. That’s a 70% obesity rate for drivers. Now, you may say “there’s nothing wrong with a little extra cushion.” There is a difference in a few extra pounds and obesity and those 7 out of 10 are at an increased risk of other health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes and sleep apnea. These health problems increase the chance of an accident on the road putting lots of lives at risk. 

Why is the obesity rate so high?

Besides the fact that being a long haul driver is a sedentary job, the main reason for this high obesity rate is stress. It’s medically proven that stress leads to obesity. The amount of stress most truck drivers have is at a level some of us will probably never reach, ever. They face all kinds of traffic, weather issues, fatigue from the job and a huge stressor can be isolation, being apart from their families for a long period of time.

What can be done?

Trucking companies are taking action to reduce the obesity rate. The hours of service on the road have been modified. And the examination process before becoming a long haul driver has been modified as well. The checklist of different organ systems, including mental health, has been taken more seriously to ensure that the driver can handle the amount of stress the job brings and make sure that it is truly safe for the driver to be on the road.

Most companies are reinforcing physical activity for drivers to improve overall wellness through employee wellness programs. There are several ways to improve overall wellness and to stay fit as a truck driver.  

  1. Stretch: This allows your muscles to release all that stress accumulated and it will relieve or prevent common symptoms such as back and neck pain.
    Need some stretching ideas? Here are 7 Simple Stretches for Truck Drivers on the Road.
  2. Healthy food choices: making healthy choices with food, isn’t necessarily about eating less, it about eating cleaner. Most trainers will say in order to lose weight it’s all about the lifestyle change: 75% diet and 25% exercise.
    Make sure you are consuming all of the vitamins and proteins your body needs to function appropriately. We are not saying quit the meat, but add in some fruits, and vegetables to your diet. Leave snacks high in saturated fats and sodium at the store. Fueling your body with the right nutrients will help your body function as it should.
  3. Sleep: Keeping up on healthy sleeping habits is just as important as physical activity. Making sure you are getting an appropriate amount of sleep won’t just give you enough energy to get through your day, but it will make you feel better overall.
    If you struggle to sleep, invest in a comfortable mattress, pillow, fan/heater and some kind of noise-canceling device – important if you are sleeping in your truck for an overnighter.

Keeping wellness top-of-mind will create a healthier industry and will reduce the liability for motor carriers and improve the quality of life for our drivers.