Truck drivers face many health challenges, and nearly 80% of drivers are overweight. Some reasons that help contribute to with being overweight are easy to find — work environment, limited access to health care, lack of healthy food choices and lack of exercise.
Being overweight places drivers at a higher risk for health issues that often result in time away from work, which means decreased pay as well as an increase in the number of truck crashes and increased out-of-pocket health care costs. Obesity is an epidemic in the truck-driver community, and there are limited resources available to help drivers combat these statistics. Drivers are challenged with finding places to park, and this limits their access to food sources. A lack of healthy food choices at truck stops and limited exercise options only compound the obesity problem.
So the question is raised: What can be done about it? Some of possible answers follow. One key to improving your health is stay focused and realize getting healthy does not happen overnight; instead, it is a process that takes time. Be patient on the journey to better health, and do not give up.
Tips for healthy eating
Eating healthy can be challenging when most of the food readily available to truck drivers is from fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and vending machines. If you don’t already, consider buying groceries and cooking in the truck using small appliances such as a Crock Pot, toaster oven, microwave or hot plate. This allows drivers to have control over the ingredients used in their meals. Whether buying groceries or buying food from a restaurant, keep in mind the foods you select. When making selections, consider whole grains, such as whole-grain rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta and whole-grain breads.
When choosing vegetables, raw products are typically best but frozen vegetables can be less expensive and can last longer. Fruit should be fresh if possible, but if fresh fruit is not an option, fruit packed in natural juices rather than syrup can be a go-to. When choosing meat, considering white meat such as chicken, turkey, pork or fish. Limiting red meat to once or twice a week is a great goal. If eating at a restaurant, remember that many establishments have the calorie, fat, sugar and carbohydrate data posted or available if you ask.
Exercise is equally important in weight-loss efforts. Even though driving a truck often comes with strenuous activity such as strapping down a load or walking around while getting loaded, these activities are not necessarily considered exercise. Clinically defined, exercise should be continuous activity that is outside of a normal routine. Some examples of exercises that can be easy for truck drivers include doing push-ups off the side of the truck, stepping up and down the running board on the cab, squats while holding onto the cab for support and balance, and doing arm curls while holding jugs of water.
As for walking, consider making 32 trips around the truck. Believe it or not if you do that you have walked one mile. Ideally exercise should be done for 30 minutes about 5 days per week.
Following these diet and exercise suggestions can help to lead to the beginning of a healthy life. Remember that weight loss should not be the goal. Rather, the goal should be getting healthy and maintaining that level of health. Consistency and dedication are key and although challenging, it is possible.
This article was researched and written by Lynn Brandt, who is seeking a doctorate of nursing practice from Grand Canyon University. Brandt earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Kennesaw State University in 1992 and then a master of science degree with a focus as a family nurse practitioner in 2006. Brandt works as a nurse practitioner and clinic manager at Urgent Care Travel’s Cartersville, Georgia, location.