You sit for long hours every day. You’re probably snacking while you’re on the road and drinking caffeine to stay awake. Then, there are all of those signs for your favorite fast food restaurants blurring along the side of the highway. Let’s face it, staying healthy as a truck driver is a struggle. However, it’s important to try because there are many common truck driver health concerns you should be aware of.
Six Common Truck Driver Health Concerns
Check out these six-common truck driver health concerns and how to prevent them.
Physical Health Issues Truck Drivers Face
Unfortunately, truck drivers are prone to obesity. In fact, studies show that about 50 percent of truck drivers in the United States are obese while 73 percent are overweight. The main causes of obesity in the trucking industry can be traced to the lack of nutrition and exercise that is accompanied by the trucking lifestyle. When you are working for long hours and driving long distances, a lack of exercise, sleep, and healthy eating all contribute to weight gain. Obesity can cause additional health concerns such as type 2 diabetes, sleeping disorders, and heart diseases.
To combat this, make time to cook healthy meals. Meal planning is an easy method to reduce the desire to stop for fast food and help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Avoid fatty food that can clog your arteries and increase your cholesterol level. Incorporate a workout schedule into your routine for a boost of energy throughout your day. It can be difficult to find the time and place to exercise when you are on the road. However, there are plenty of exercises that you can do such as jogging or utilizing dumbbells.
2. Lung Cancer
An estimated 60 percent of truck drivers are smokers. Did you know that smoking contributes to your chances of obtaining heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, as well as a stroke? Lung cancer is the most overlooked health issue out of the common truck driver health concerns. When smoking becomes an everyday habit for truck drivers, it can gradually contribute to the development of lung cancer. In addition, inhaling diesel fumes and other toxic chemicals can also increase your chance of lung cancer, putting truckers at greater risk.
To lower your chances of lung cancer, give up smoking and routinely check your ventilation systems to ensure that they are properly working. Minimizing your exposure to these fumes are integral to preventing lung cancer.
3. Musculoskeletal Injuries
The constant process of loading and unloading cargo in addition to sitting in your truck for hours on end can cause musculoskeletal injuries. Improper sitting positions can cause strains on your body causing back and neck injuries. Overexertion of your body can cause aches and pains, which can lead to further musculoskeletal injuries.
Avoid these injuries by adjusting your seating position and being conscious of it. Likewise, implement exercising into your daily routine to loosen your body to prevent stiffness. Make sure that you attend a routine check-up with your doctor to ensure that you have not acquired any injuries. After all, prevention is the number one top solution to solving common truck driver health concerns.
4. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a health condition that is definitely a pain point for truck drivers. The sleeping disorder causes someone’s breathing to stop periodically while they’re asleep. This can lead to them having slow reaction times when they’re awake. Truck drivers are screened for sleep apnea as part of their CDL physical, and sometimes truckers with sleep apnea are not allowed to drive until the problem is corrected. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the laws on sleep apnea and trucking.
Things that put you at high-risk of sleep apnea include obesity, smoking, alcohol use and unfortunately, genetics. To reduce your chances of getting sleep apnea, manage your weight and limit smoking and drinking. Also, be sure to talk to your company about how a sleep apnea diagnosis would affect your career.
Mental Health Struggles Truck Drivers Experience
Stress is a common health concern for truck drivers in the trucking industry. Of course, there’s the stress of making your delivery on time, being stuck in traffic and dealing with bad drivers on the road. However, stress can also be caused by lack of sleep, isolation, and other health concerns that you might be suffering from. Stress can cause sleep deprivation, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and weight shifts, so it is important to manage and minimize your stress levels.
To prevent and reduce your stress levels, strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle of healthy eating and daily exercise. You could also try meditation or deep breathing exercises to help you calm down. In addition, make sure that you are getting enough sleep to prevent sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea and driver’s fatigue.
6. Depression and Isolation
A life on the road can take a toll on your mental health. Many long-haul truckers experience loneliness, and this can lead to depression. Sometimes depression can go undetected by anyone other than the trucker because they’re not around their families often enough for them to notice a change in their behavior. If you are suffering from depression, focusing on other aspects of your life will be difficult.
An important tip to solve this problem is to recognize that you are experiencing depression and talk to someone about it. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and there is no shame in getting help. Seek help if, because it will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What are some common truck driver health concerns that you have and how do you address them? Share with us in the comments below!