From sitting behind the wheel in a harmful way, poor eating habits, to lifting and carrying things wrong, these are just a few ways that can potentially cause health issues for truck drivers. But by keeping a few things in mind and working healthy habits into your daily life, you can avoid most of these health issues.
Spending most of your time behind the wheel, not getting enough exercise, eating too much fast food, and lack of nutrition, unfortunately, leaves truck drivers prone to obesity.
Studies show that about 50 percent of truck drivers in the United States are obese, while 73 percent are overweight. But there are ways to combat this.
Making an effort to cook healthier meals is a great one. Start by making a meal plan and packing cooking supplies and cookware. You can even cook a few meals while you’re at home, freeze them, and reheat while out on the road.
Exercise is another activity to try to incorporate into your schedule. But, especially for truck drivers who work long hours and practically live in a confined space, this can seem nearly impossible. Don’t lose hope yet, though! There are quite a few ways to add exercise into your life while on the road. Visit our blogs below for some great exercise routines.
Depression and Isolation
The life of a trucker is not an easy one. Life on the road can be lonely. Leaving behind a spouse, children, family, friends, and even your family pet can be difficult and lead to feelings of guilt, sadness, and depression. And, of course, the current state of Covid-19 is only increasing all of these feelings.
Many people suffer from depression, 5% of the Canadian population. This stat is increased significantly within the trucking industry, where it is estimated that 15% to 20% of truck drivers are affected by clinical depression.
Asking for help can be difficult, but you are not alone. Depression is not in your head, and it is most definitely not a weakness; it is a real condition that can be treated, managed and overcome.
For information on crisis services, please visit Klinic’s website.
Sleep apnea is a very serious sleep disorder that happens when a person’s breathing is interrupted when they sleep. When left untreated, a person can potentially stop breathing hundreds of times throughout the night. The result is the brain, along with the rest of the body, may not receive enough oxygen during these moments.
The Mayo Clinic says there are three main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea – the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.
- Central sleep apnea – which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome is also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Different risk factors make people more prone to sleep apnea for each sleep apnea category, but the common reasons are obesity, smoking, alcohol use, and genetics. For a complete list of risk factors and more information on sleep apnea, visit the Mayo Clinic’s website.
Musculoskeletal injuries are soft tissue injuries caused by sudden impact, force, vibration, and unbalanced positions. They can affect the muscles, nerves, ligaments, joints, blood vessels, neck, and lower back.
There are different types of musculoskeletal injuries, including:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Bone fractures
- Muscle / Tendon strain
- Ligament Sprain
- Tension Neck Syndrome
- Thoracic Outlet Compression
- Radial Tunnel Syndrome
- Trigger Finger
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Herniated Disc and many more
From long hours sitting in the driver’s seat to the process of loading and unloading cargo are ways that musculoskeletal injuries can occur in trucking.
While it seems impossible to avoid, there are ways to avoid it. Adjust your seating position while driving. If you are sitting improperly, this can cause strains on your body, mainly causing back and neck injuries. We have a great blog, Hey Driver, You Need to Sit Up Straight, that goes into detail on how to properly sit while driving without causing injury.
This is a common theme when talking about trucker health, but including exercise and stretching into your daily routine will do wonders for your body.
Published in 2014, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) surveyed 1,265 long-haul truck drivers at 32 truck stops across the United States. These surveys were analyzed to describe all self-reported musculoskeletal injuries. The surveys showed that long-haul truck drivers are significantly affected by musculoskeletal injuries, with incidence rates 3.5 times higher than the national average.
Injuries to the arm (26.3%) and back (21.1%) were the two areas most reported in the survey. Musculoskeletal injuries were most often caused by falls (38.9%) and contact with an object or equipment (33.7%), resulting most commonly in sprains/strains (60%).
For more details about the study, please follow this link.
An estimated 60 percent of truck drivers are smokers, which we all know is bad. Besides lung cancer, smoking also increases your chances of heart diseases, diabetes, strokes, and many, many other health conditions and problems.
But truck drivers are also inhaling diesel fumes and other toxic chemicals that can increase your chance of lung cancer.
Giving up smoking is an obvious but extremely difficult first step in reducing your chance of lung cancer. Ensuring that your ventilation systems are working properly and trying to minimize your exposure to the fumes are other ways to reduce your chances.