When your paycheck depends on the clock and how many miles you can log, your alternatives for a healthy lifestyle can become quite limited. Many truckers are forced to eat greasy, unhealthy meals at fast food restaurants, truck stops, and diners because they offer fast service and cheap food. Exercise can be tough to fit in because most of their time is spent sitting behind the wheel. Three of the biggest health problems truckers face today are obesity, sleep apnea, and smoking-related health issues (half of all truckers smoke); all three the results of poor and unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits.
With workers compensation and healthcare costs sky rocketing, trucking companies are stepping up efforts to improve the health of their employees and implement programs that will help reach that objective. Even the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is getting involved and may soon be reviewing government regulations for truck drivers’ health and certain conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
While it may take years to reverse unhealthy habits and their effects, trucking companies that have taken measures to encourage healthy lifestyles among their employees are already starting to see positive results. Some companies have stationed nurses and set up clinics at their main hubs. Truckers are encouraged to take advantage of the free blood pressure and cholesterol checks offered. Initiatives such as this can help trim a company’s annual (often very costly) employee healthcare bill. Others provide special sleep masks for individuals who suffer from sleep apnea or programs designed to help those who want to quit smoking. One company even reports annual workers compensation claims dropped 80% and sick work days decrease 75% after a health and wellness plan was implemented for all employed truck drivers.
If you are in the trucking industry and currently have a truck driving job that does not always provide you with healthy alternatives, contact your employer company to see if they offer any health and wellness programs or free medical checks and services.