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A Guide to Truck Driver Health & Emotional Wellness

Did you know that over 50% of long-haul truck drivers have at least two or more significant health conditions or unhealthy behaviors? Due to their work environment, practicing a healthy lifestyle can be a considerable challenge. Let’s discuss truck drivers' most common health issues, how to combat them, and emotional wellness practices that can be woven into daily life.


Common Truck Driver Health Issues

A variety of health issues exist amongst the U.S. workforce, but a clear pattern of common health conditions appears in trucking. These include:

  1. Obesity: Long hours of sitting and limited access to healthy food options can lead to weight gain.

  2. Sleep Apnea: Irregular sleep schedules, obesity, and long driving hours can contribute to sleep disorders.

  3. Musculoskeletal Problems: Prolonged sitting and heavy lifting can cause back, neck, and joint pain.

  4. Cardiovascular Disease: High stress, poor diet, and lack of exercise increase the risk of heart disease.

  5. Diabetes: A sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits can lead to type 2 diabetes.

  6. Mental Health Issues: Isolation, stress, and long hours can contribute to anxiety and depression.

  7. High Blood Pressure: Stress, poor diet, and lack of physical activity can lead to hypertension, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.


How to Combat Health Issues

While it is certainly easier said than done, there are ways to combat these health issues plaguing truck drivers across the country. There is no quick fix. Implementing healthy habits takes time, commitment, and a willingness to make major lifestyle changes. For a truck driver, it’s even more difficult due to the nature of their work. Here are a few ways drivers can improve their health:

  1. Maintain a Healthy Diet: Opt for nutritious meals and snacks when possible. Keep fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lean proteins on hand. Look for healthier options at the truck stop or meal prep in advance. Oh, and most importantly, drink water!

  2. Exercise Regularly: Incorporate physical activities like walking, stretching, or strength exercises into daily routines during breaks. This is CRUCIAL. Keep a kettlebell on hand for a versatile workout option. At the very least, stretch and walk when the opportunity arises.

  3. Prioritize Sleep: Aim for consistent sleep schedules (when possible) and create a comfortable sleep environment. Install black-out curtains to block out light. Silence your phone. Invest in high-quality bedding. Choose safer and quieter places to park. Buy noise-canceling headphones or earplugs. Do your best to stick to a bedtime routine.

  4. Manage Stress: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Buy a journal to write in after each shift. Plan routes and stops ahead of time to avoid future stress. Try to stay connected with friends and family during breaks or off-duty time.

  5. Regular Health Check-ups: Monitor health regularly to catch and address issues early. Don’t wait for your DOT Physical Exam. Checkup as needed and at least once a year.

  6. Quit Smoking: This one speaks for itself. Smoking can cause many long-term health issues.


Emotional Wellness Practices

Drivers are not only at risk for physical health issues, but also mental health ailments caused by isolation, long hours, and stress. Here are a few ways drivers can maintain a healthy mind:

  1. Mindfulness and Meditation: Spend a few minutes each day before you start driving practicing mindfulness or meditation to reduce stress and increase focus.

  2. Physical Activity: Studies show that physical activity can greatly increase your mental health. When possible, get your body moving.

  3. Practice Gratitude and Positivity: Another thing that is much easier said than done. Your mindset and emotional health can change drastically by looking for opportunities to be grateful. Driving a truck gives you plenty of chances to be stressed and angry. Do your best to stay positive or laugh it off through the challenging moments.

  4. Stay Connected: Maintain regular communication with family and friends to combat feelings of isolation. Loneliness can creep in when you aren’t looking. This might not feel important, but it’s crucial to maintain some regular connections with family and friends while on the road. Thankfully, things like FaceTime exist!

  5. Set Goals: Establish short-term and long-term goals to stay motivated and have a sense of purpose. Make a point to sit down a few times a year to write down your goals and revisit them as needed. Think about your “Why?”.

  6. Journaling: Keep a journal to express thoughts, frustrations, goals, funny stories, and whatever else is on your mind.

  7. Hobbies: Engage in hobbies and activities that you enjoy during downtime to relax and recharge. Whether that’s golfing, watching Netflix, or hanging out with family – make it happen!


 

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Soshaul Logistics LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. It is meant to serve as a guide and information only and Soshaul Logistics, LLC does not assume responsibility for any omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained herein. Contents may not be relied upon as a substitute for the FMCSA's published regulations. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction or operation.

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