The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.7 years — but for truckers, it’s only around 60. While job risks like traffic accidents are partly to blame, the trucking lifestyle may be the bigger culprit. Here’s what truckers are doing to change the statistics, and create longer, healthier lives.
Why is it so hard for truckers to stay healthy?
Long hours sitting behind the wheel. Lack of access to healthy food choices. Limited time for exercise. It’s easy to see why staying healthy is a challenge for truck drivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, truckers have the highest obesity prevalence of any occupation. They also have a 50% higher risk of developing diabetes compared to the general population, according to a 2009 study. However, an industry-wide shift toward healthier lifestyles is beginning to change all that.
Who’s driving the push for better health?
Rising healthcare and insurance costs, an aging workforce, and the desire to improve one’s own health are all contributing factors to the growing concern — and as the industry rallies around the problem, we’re seeing a lot of promising new solutions. Transportation companies, health insurance providers, healthcare companies, and individual truckers are all doing their part to create a healthier future for truckers. Here’s how:
- Employers and Transportation Companies
In the corporate world, “workplace wellness” has been a growing trend — but it’s been slower to reach the trucking industry. Drivers travel across the country daily, making it difficult to access workout facilities, participate in fitness classes, or assemble for office meetings about healthcare. Instead, employers are trying new methods to reach a mobile workforce, including online fitness programs, conference calls with health coaches, and mobile applications to track diet and exercise. For example, Prime Inc., a trucking operation with thousands of drivers, hired a trucker-turned-fitness guru to create and implement a health program for its fleet.
- Healthcare Providers and Insurance Companies
Keeping truckers healthy is good for everyone on the road. A driver with more energy is less likely to become drowsy — which may prevent accidents. Healthcare providers and insurance companies are reaching out to truckers with websites, online video channels, and other resources aimed at improving health. For example, The Healthy Trucking Association dispenses health advice, articles, and recipes on its website, along with insurance information.
- Transportation Industry
Financial providers and others in the industry are also chipping in to improve trucker health. The healthytrucker website features health, lifestyle and money blogs. Meanwhile, the online video network CFF Nation hosts fitness-themed shows for truckers, including cooking shows and exercise programs with moves you can do inside or outside of your truck.
Of course, the only way to truly improve truckers’ health is if truckers themselves get involved — and not surprisingly, truckers are the biggest drivers in the trend. Here are some of the ways they’re incorporating health into life on the road:
- 15-minute “exercise breaks”
Truckers are using breaks to get in quick, high-intensity exercise. A workout can be as simple as
jogging around the truck stop, lifting weights, or doing jumping jacks. If you can work in two or three short exercise sessions a day, you’ll boost your metabolism.
- Healthy choices on the road
Fast food options are limited, but with a little education, drivers can make better choices. For example, a six-inch sub with double meat provides more protein and fewer carbs than a foot-long. Drivers can skip buns on burgers, sub salads for fries, and go easy on the dressing.
Some drivers are creating kitchens in their cabs, with portable mini-fridges and basic cooking facilities designed for the road. They’re stocking up on healthy ingredients and produce at grocery stores, and making their own nutritious meals instead of settling for fast food.