Truck Along Healthily If You’re a Truck DriverObesity
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Like many of you, I’m constantly writing, answering emails or doing research on my computer. This means lots of sitting, but fortunately we can be proactive by making sure we stand and move throughout the day as we work. We can also be proactive by eating healthily and resisting the office cupcakes and pizza.
But for some, their profession can make it particularly difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Specifically, I’m talking about truck drivers.
Reportedly, truck drivers can spend up to 11 hours a day behind the wheel. Obviously, if you’re driving, you can’t take a standing or walking break. And the pressure to get the job done in a timely matter doesn’t make things any easier.
“You’ll work long hours, sit most of the day and have little time to stretch your legs. Deadlines will become a part of life, and you’ll find, after working for a few years, that your health is suffering,” according to this article on the potential dangers of truck driving.
In addition to this, life on the road is filled with fast food stops. If you’re a truck driver, it’s not like you have many opportunities to eat healthily.
“I gained 60 pounds because it's a sedentary life. You just drive, sleep, drive, sleep,” said driver Donna Penland, in this report.
Penland also attributed her weight gain to a lack of access to healthy food on the road.
"There's not a whole lot to make you feel good. So eating is one of the things you kind of have some freedom with, to make you feel good."
Baleka is very aware of the truck drivers’ health crisis and spearheads voluntary wellness programs for truck drivers. According to the report in which he is featured, he remotely coaches around 3,000 drivers. He stresses following a low-carb, high-protein diet and doing small amounts of high intensity exercises whenever possible.
(Protein is one of the six groups of nutrients we need to stay healthy. (The other nutrient groups are water, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals). Our bodies use protein to build and repair tissues and make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals. Protein also may help us feel full and prevent hunger pangs which in turn may prevent us from giving in to eating junk foods).
Baleka also fought for truckers to have health monitoring devices such as heart rate and body composition monitors.
“I can monitor the physical condition of the driver just like we do with a truck," Baleka said.
And according to the report discussing Baleka, a recent transportation industry report revealed that 21 percent of drivers who left the field in recent years did so due to health reasons.
There are reportedly 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States yet there is a need for 51,000 more drivers to fulfill jobs for companies, including Amazon and Walmart.
On top of this, “[a]round 70 percent of truck drivers are obese and at high risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and many in the trucking business worry that the poor health of drivers is threatening the industry.”
And it’s not just the United States that is seeing a health crisis among truck drivers.
According to a recent Australian study that surveyed 231 truck drivers between the ages of 20 to 71, two thirds of them were classified as obese (compared to one third of the Australian population).
“It found truck driving was a job with many health risks—long working hours, lots of sitting, poor nutrition, social isolation, shift work, time pressure, elevated risk of chronic disease and musculoskeletal conditions, low levels of job control, and a high risk of road crashes,” according to this report discussing the survey.
How can truck drivers be proactive?
If you’re a truck driver, just knowing your job can be detrimental to your health if you don’t take action is key. I would recommend seeking the advice of a competent healthcare professional who can determine your current health status and see if truck driving is even safe for you to have as a profession. Remember, our health is our greatest wealth.
If your doctor gives you the green light to go ahead and keep trucking…
- Remember to take as many rest stops as you can to move and stretch.
- Stock your truck with healthy, nutrient-dense snacks like nuts and dried fruits. Also try to eat plenty of fresh veggies and fruits. These items are perishable, obviously, but at least starting your shift with fresh, plant-based foods will get you the nutrients you need for the grueling hours of truck driving.
- Even better, consider getting a truck fridge to stock up on healthy foods.
- If you stop at a fast food joint, go for grilled and not fried. Drink water instead of soda.
- Take advantage of health apps such as Rolling Strong, specifically designed to help truckers make healthier decisions on the road. Also take advantage of these supportive Facebook groups.
- When you are not on the road, consider getting vitamin IV drips which provide hydration and vitamins directly into the bloodstream to boost nutritional status.
Enjoy your healthy life, and keep on truckin’!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.