Although quite a few jobs carry a risk of health issues, no other job is harsher on the body than that of a long-haul truck driver. Having a friend who has been employed as one for the past 10 years I have seen first-hand how the work conditions really are: unnatural schedules, many hours sitting on the vehicle and lack of access to good nutrition other than fast-food stores or pit-stop cafes. In addition, their work system do not normally allow for a regular fitness regimen.
Truck driver health issue is something that should really be addressed. This huge industry brings goods across the country every day, supplying our supermarkets and moving around our mail. Our long-haul transport professionals have to survive tough conditions in order to keep us well stocked, and in turn, we should put value on their well-being.
Thankfully, employers are also taking steps to address this problem, implementing programs to keep track and help improve the fitness of their valuable staff. As for my friend, he is currently working at Effective Logistics. His company started to implement programs to support those who are at risk of obesity and other conditions common to those in this profession. Moreover, they offer support for those who already have developed ailments during their employment, as was the case of my friend. He developed diabetes as a result of the lack of regular exercise and was overweight. He was connected to specialists who put him on a strict diet and training regimen.
These initiatives are definitely necessary, as there is actually a long list of ailments that are common to those in the trucking industry:
When you are sitting in a cab the whole day, trying to make it to your destination in good time, you suffer from a lack of adequate movement. In fact, only your feet and your arms get a bit of exercise at this time. The punishing work hours do not make it easy to head out to a gym for some training as well. It is no wonder then that most drivers struggle with their weight.
What more, in the wee hours of the night, when they take a break, the restaurants offering healthier options are probably closed. On isolated roads, there is simply a lack of choice. There is also no opportunity to prepare their own meals, so they just have to eat what is available. High-fat and high-sugar products common to fast-food places can really have an effect on your waistline.
In addition to the lack of exercise and better nutrition, most drivers have to resort to drinking sodas or coffee with sugar to keep them awake on their journey. Sugar gives a jolt of energy so it is certainly the most popular snack to have when you have to work very long hours. Unfortunately, it can eventually lead to Type-2 Diabetes, another ailment common to those in the industry.
High blood pressure and Hypertension
All those burgers and the high-sodium fast food are also very punishing on your cholesterol levels and can put you at risk for future heart attacks. When you are in the cab, having a stroke that can debilitate you poses a serious hazard for all vehicles on the road.
Of course, the depressing part of this is that once you develop these ailments, they tend to be lifelong. This means that though your diabetes or hypertension can be controlled using medication, they can never be “cured” or reversed. One simply has to maintain a better lifestyle and hope that this can prevent complications or further sickness.
In this industry, you have to get comfortable sleeping in a truck, in an unnatural sleep schedule. You might develop problems like sleep apnea as well. This is a condition where someone stops breathing while they sleep, increasing the risk of daytime sleepiness. It can also lead to congestive heart failure, and when one is tired on the wheel, possibly lead to accidents.
In fact, though it is a well-paid job, the conditions put off most applicants. Employers struggle to hire workers, so providing them with better conditions and other programs to support their health and well-being is key. Not only can they attract new talent, but they can also improve the lives of all their current staff.
A great first step is to provide them with access to specialists that create special diet and fitness plans tailored to their schedule and being on the road all the time. Frequent checks can catch risks earlier, and trigger the need to see a doctor. Other programs like support groups, options to bring, store or prepare their own food and even financial incentives to stay fit also help bring good results.
In the end, drivers like my friend love their profession, and with support from their employers they can continue performing their jobs well and remain in good physical shape. After all, good health is what makes them more efficient and productive in their job.