5 ways to beat the odds stacked against truckers

According to a NIOSH study, 88 percent of truckers have at least one of the following health risk factors: high blood pressure, smoking, physical inactivity, sleep apnea. This is compared to 54 percent in the general population. Despite an awareness of the health risks, seven out of 10 truckers are obese — two times the rate of other adult workers in the U.S. — and 67 percent are smokers.

While the long, stressful, isolated hours sitting behind the wheel of a big rig may present challenges to those drivers who want to stay or get healthy, there are ways to reduce the health risks associated with those who drive long distances as part of their jobs.
  1. Eat and drink healthy. Opt for healthy snacks instead of junk food when driving. Prepare good meals to cook in a crock pot while you drive so an alternative to fast food is available when you stop for the night. Drink water instead of sugary sodas, energy drinks, or even fruit juice.
  2. Get active. Get exercise while your truck is being loaded or unloaded. Even if you are unfamiliar with the area, walking laps around the parking lot will get you some much-needed exercise. Mount a bike rack to your truck and take a ride several times a week, research walking trails in the area, or get a membership at a national fitness chain so you can work out wherever you go.
  3. Quit smoking. Your employer or insurance company may offer help and incentives for smoking cessation efforts.
  4. Have fun. Find ways to reduce stress. When home, spend time with friends. On the road, use the gym as an opportunity to socialize.
  5. Track your weight. This gives feedback about how well your exercise and diet efforts are going, and provides motivation once you start to see success.
With a little planning and adjustments to your routine, you can get on the road to better health.