According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Health factors that can put someone at a higher risk of heart disease include hypertension, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, physical inactivity and six or less hours of sleep a day. A study about driver heart health reported that 61 percent of the drivers in their study had two or more of those rick factors. The study also found that obesity and smoking were twice as prevalent in drivers as the adult working population in the United States.
Due to the nature of the job, which requires sitting for many consecutive hours and lack of access to healthy food on the road, it’s unfortunately not surprising that drivers are facing increased risk factors. Below are recommendations for combating these risk factors to lead to a healthier heart and continued productivity and happiness.
- Increased Physical Activity: Complete at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day to combat the hours of sitting behind the wheel. Easy ways to include this in your daily routine include keeping a jump rope in your cab and getting a few reps in when you’re waiting during detention, or walking laps around your rig while parked and taking a break. If you complete 32 laps around a tractor and 53′ trailer, you’ll have walked an entire mile. Doing this while chatting on the phone with family or listening to an audiobook can make this time fly by.
- Meal Prep: By prepping your meals and snacks at home ahead of your next route can save you money and make meals more convenient and healthy. Instead of spending time at a truck stop to select a meal from a menu with few healthy offerings, you can enjoy a meal you made at home that is customized for your diet needs as soon as your break starts. This can help you stay on track with your diet and could also save you money in the long run.
- Drop Unhealthy Habits: Smoking and getting too little sleep are habits that can be difficult to break but have great upsides. Changing these habits can lessen the stress on your heart and benefit your overall health. Visit the Mayo Clinic website for resources for quitting smoking and improving the quantity and quality of your sleep.
We all want drivers on the road to lead happy, fulfilling and healthy lives. The more we spread awareness of the issue of heart health for drivers, the closer we can get to achieving this. Drivers, please spread the word throughout the rest of American Heart Month with your colleagues on the road.