The biggest trend for us drivers is the increased-awareness on keeping ourselves healthy in our sedentary careers. The first step to combat the serious health issues truckers commonly have to battle with is to learn what you are at risk for and learn what you can do to prevent it.
The statistics are not with us, drivers! A shocking 73% of us are overweight with about 50% of us considered obese. That number is too high! We’ve got to change our habits. But, its not easy. We don’t have it as easy as everyone else because we don’t have the same opportunities to exercise. It’s hard to not put on weight. By the time we get a chance to take a rest, the last thing usually on our mind is working out or hitting the truck-stop gym (if they even have one.) Granted, these days, the new regulations requiring more breaks for drivers allows us more time to get active. But, we didn’t always have guidelines or time to engage in any form of physical activity. Obesity is a major cause of serious health problems, but you can take on measures to prevent it! Make healthy meals from your cab and utilize your breaks to get moving. You don’t necessarily have to go into full-force extreme daily workouts, but taking a stroll around the parking lot even can do a lot for your metabolism while also providing you with natural energy!
As aforementioned, obesity causes many serious health problems. For example, heart attacks. However, you can still get heart attacks if you are a normal weight but obesity increases your chances dramatically. Because so many truckers struggle with weight and because they can encounter many stressful issues throughout their career, they’re highly susceptible to heart issues.
How to know you’re having a heart attack: chest and arm/jaw/stomach pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, cold sweats and nausea. If you experience this, pull over immediately and call 911.
Prevention: Regular exercise, eating right, not smoking, keeping blood pressure down.
Lack of Sleep
Sleep is a crucial part of every human’s basic functionality. But for truckers who are behind the wheel of potentially lethal huge steel trailers, its important to not skimp on snoozes. Sleep deprivation causes many problems such as high blood pressure (which leads to heart attacks), memory loss, weight fluctuation and weakened immune systems. Not to mention the danger you put yourself and other drivers you share the road with. Some studies even suggest a drowsy driver is potentially more dangerous than a driver under the influence of some alcoholic beverages! It may be tempting to stay up longer to get paid by the mile, but don’t be stupid. Also, due to strict sleep regulations if you get caught not following the law you can find yourself in some big trouble. Also, if you are so tired you make a mistake your career is on the line. Its not a healthy habit to not get enough sleep and it effects your physical well-being, the safety of others, as well as the “health” of your career!
Even truckers that never have lit a cigarette once in their life can still end up getting work-related cancer after a long career. But, smoking clearly is a reason why truckers get cancer, too.
Lung-Cancer: Over half of truckers smoke so its no big surprise that lung cancer is common among them. Yeah, I can see why they do it. It gets boring driving and having that oral fixation helps keep busy. But, so does chewing gum or singing along with the radio…and those are way more healthy habits. (Additionally, smoking increases likelihood of all the other health-problems mentioned in this post.)
Skin-Cancer: I know what you’re thinking. Skin cancer? But yes, your face is daily exposed to UV rays. Over time that exposure can really add up. Combat this by wearing a low SPF sunscreen on your face or see about adding a film to your window that can block the sun.
Bladder/Kidney Cancer: Truckers know, when they gotta go…they can’t always go. Decades of prolonged “holding it in” can cause serious problems on your insides. As gross as it is, keep an empty container on hand for emergencies. I’d so rather pee in a water bottle than get cancer…but that’s just me.