5 Common Truck Driver Health Risks and How to Avoid Them

We all know truck driving is no cake walk. Add the frustration of trying to exercise and eat well on the road to the existing occupational stress, and this job can wreak havoc on your health if you let it.

There are some health complications that truck drivers in particular are commonly affected by. Today, I want to take some time to talk about 5 truck driver health risks and how to prevent them from happening to you. Like they say, prevention is the best medicine!

1. Sleep Deprivation

When you get paid for every mile you drive the truck, it can be tempting to skimp out on shut-eye in exchange for a little extra money in your pocket. Don’t fall prey to this temptation! Sleep deprivation can lead to complications like memory loss, weight fluctuations, sleep paralysis (which might I add, sounds terrifying), and high blood pressure. It can also weaken your immune system.

Sleep is crucial for performing your duties as a truck driver responsibly. It’s dangerous to drive down the road when you haven’t gotten enough rest, and it can have a damaging effect on your career if you get caught.

2. Obesity

Overweight man smoking a cigarette

Photo by Alex Proimos

Obesity is a common health issue among truck drivers — 73% of drivers are overweight, and 50% are obese.

After a long, grueling, cross-country drive, it’s tempting to plop down on your bed, pop in a DVD, and seek comfort with a delicious, artery-clogging Big Mac, an order of fries large enough to feed a small family, and of course, a Diet Coke. Do this multiple times a week, and you can see how easy it is to put on weight with this lifestyle.

To combat (or prevent) weight gain, exercise often and watch your diet. I know after driving all day it can be difficult to work up the motivation to go exercise, but force yourself to and you’ll actually feel better afterwards! Make it a part of your daily routine — sometimes it’s easier to just suck it up and get it out of the way first thing in the morning.

Exercising doesn’t have to be a strenuous P-90X sweat-fest. Take some laps around your truck. Walk around the parking lot. Do some jumping jacks or lift some dumbbells in the cab of your truck.

You can make healthy meals right in your cab by stocking up on good food at your local grocery store before leaving for a trip. If you have healthy food readily available on your truck with you, you’ll be less inclined to stop for the greasy fast food options. Consider investing in a slow cooker – you can make delicious, healthy meals with very little work! Just plug it in, chuck ingredients in the pot, and let your meal cook while you’re driving. Can’t get much easier than that.

It’s important to eat well and stay fit, because obesity can lead to further health complications, like my next point – heart attacks.

3. Heart Attacks

Heart attacks are a health complication that can stem directly from obesity. Obviously you don’t have to be overweight to have a heart attack, but not maintaining a healthy lifestyle can certainly increase your chances of suffering from one.

Know the signs of heart attacks. Chest discomfort/pressure, pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach, shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, and light headedness are all warnings of a heart attack. If you’re experiencing any of these, call 911 pronto. Prevent heart attacks from the get-go by exercising, eating healthy, and keeping your blood pressure down.

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About Amanda

Amanda is a former digital communications coordinator and frequent blogger for the TheHealthyTrucker.net, a website focused on truck driver health initiatives. Our mission is to encourage truck drivers to embrace a healthier lifestyle by providing both expert advice and real world experiences. Let us be your co-driver on the road to a healthier, happier life!