Type to search

Top tips to help truck drivers stay healthy

Avatar photo

It’s a well-known fact that truck driving is a fairly dangerous job. Whether you closely follow news for truck drivers, or you’re only vaguely aware of the inherent risks of this career, the following is vital knowledge for those rigging down the road.

What many people don’t realize is that some of the risks come from lifestyle factors, and not just from the possibility of getting into a collision while on the road. Between the sedentary lifestyle, the lack of optimal sleep, and the tendency to live on fast food, truck drivers have a far higher risk of developing chronic diseases that can lead to shorter lifespans.

The industry’s high turnover rate may keep some drivers from succumbing to these outcomes, but other drivers could be headed down a dangerous road without even realizing it.

Here are some of the main health hazards for truck drivers:

  • High-stress levels
  • Imbalanced sleep routine
  • Reliance on fast food (partly due to lack of access to healthier options)
  • Exposure to chemicals such as diesel fumes
  • Cramped work space that requires hours of sitting every shift

The good news is that truckers don’t have to resign themselves to feeling tired and sluggish all the time, let alone developing health conditions down the line. While some of these hazards can’t be avoided, others can be mitigated to some degree, with the following tips serving as the easiest way of improving a truck driver’s overall health and well-being.

Incorporate light exercise every day

After a long day behind the wheel, the last thing on a driver’s mind is going for a walk. However, that’s exactly what they should do at some point during the day.

Even just 15 minutes of brisk walking can be very helpful for maintaining healthy circulation, which is especially important for anyone with a sedentary job. It doesn’t have to be walking. It could be pushups other bodyweight exercises, or anything enjoyable enough to keep up with.

Pro tip: Exercise should be avoided at least two hours before going to sleep since it slows down the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone).

Improve sleep quality

This is something that most people could work on, but it’s especially important for truck drivers. Without proper sleep, it’s much harder to stay alert while on the road, and everyone knows how disastrous it can be when someone falls asleep at the wheel.

Unfortunately, it’s rare for a driver to sleep in a restful environment. They often catch their Z’s in a small bunk in the back of the truck’s cab, which is technically adequate, but far from optimal. There’s usually a lot of extra light, noise, and general activity all around, which can make it hard to fall asleep, let alone stay that way.

How can this be addressed? Excess light can be blocked out by curtains or an eye mask, and ear plugs can help with the noise.

Perhaps more importantly, though, truckers must give themselves time to unwind after a long day of staying alert. Some apps help with relaxation, and they could even consider some basic meditation techniques to calm both their bodies and their minds.

Reduce fast food consumption

Truck drivers rarely have access to their fridges, let alone a space to prepare meals. This makes fast food the default option for most of their meals. Unfortunately, the result is that they almost exclusively eat foods that are full of unhealthy fats, sugar, preservatives, and all kinds of other problematic ingredients.

For many, this diet results in excessive weight gain, which is a risk factor for all kinds of other diseases (such as heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, etc.). Solving this issue isn’t that easy, but it can be done. Some fast food chains offer healthier alternatives, and supermarkets also sell prepared meals (like sandwiches and salads) that are better than fried chicken or bacon cheeseburgers.

Eat lighter meals

Everyone has experienced the energy slump that comes after a large meal, especially if that meal came from a drive-through window. For truck drivers, though, this isn’t just an inconvenience; it’s a hazard, both for themselves and for other drivers. Fortunately, the solution to this is simple: Just eat smaller meals.

Even if a meal isn’t the healthiest, it can be divided into two portions instead of eaten in one sitting. Or, each meal could be smaller than before, with snacks in between.

Avoid stimulants

Speaking of energy slumps, many truck drivers rely on energy drinks, coffee, and other stimulants to keep them alert. This may get the job done at the moment, but it can also have adverse health effects. For example, energy drinks have been shown to erode tooth enamel after just five servings. Coffee isn’t necessarily as bad, but it can cause dehydration since it’s a diuretic.

When stimulants are being consumed all day long, this can leave a driver feeling “wired and tired” at the end of the day, unable to sleep because of all the caffeine in their system. The next day they’ll wake up feeling exhausted, get a cup of coffee to wake themselves up, and the cycle will begin again. The solution is to focus less on stimulants, and more on quality sleep. It isn’t necessary to go cold turkey on caffeine; it’s just important to know how much is too much and stay below that amount.

Stay hydrated

Water is essential for countless physical functions, and when someone is chronically dehydrated, they’ll probably suffer the consequences. For truck drivers, the worst effects will probably be brain fog and slowed reactions, which are things that should be avoided. When the brain doesn’t get enough water, it just doesn’t work as well. Keeping plenty of water on hand will go a long way to ensure that the driver drinks enough throughout the day. The takeaway Truck drivers may have a harder time than most when it comes to staying healthy, but they can still take practical steps to feel better over the short and long term.

The takeaway

Truck drivers may have a harder time than most when it comes to staying healthy, but they can still take practical steps to feel better over the short and long term.

Avatar photo
Guest Author

Disclaimer: Guest Posts don't reflect the views and opinions of Pickup Truck +SUV Talk. Articles include links to websites for products and services. Pickup Truck +SUV Talk receives a monetary commission for each guest post.

  • 1

You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Stories