Why should a driver care about his or her health?

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Thanks for stopping by to check out my first blog post! You may recognize me from previous posts and articles by Truck News about the Healthy Fleet Challenges. From my bio you’ll see that I’m a nutritionist and health coach in the industry, and I love showing drivers how simple it can be to improve their health while on the road.

When I start talking to drivers, they sometimes let me know that they simply don’t pay attention to their health, nor do they care to. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Unfortunately that method isn’t working out for our drivers, as we are losing far too many of them at a younger-than-average age, with some studies suggesting the average lifestyle of a long haul driver being as low as 61.

But aside from the obvious difference in lifespan, why should a driver really bother to put an effort into their health, when the odds are stacked against them and they’re living an often lonely, stressful life on the road?

One connection that many people don’t see is that a healthy driver is a safer driver than if he was the unhealthy version of himself. To be more specific, improved health means improved mental alertness, improved reaction times, and therefore a reduced risk of being involved in a collision. Healthier people typically have more energy and reduced drowsiness as well, reducing the risk of a collision as a result of fatigue. Studies have even found that a driver with a Body Mass Index of over 30 (considered obese) are twice as likely to be involved in a collision. That puts themselves, their fleets, their cargo, and every person travelling on the road at risk.

Another safety concern is injury prevention. While a driver’s job is typically seen as being sedentary, there’s a lot of physical demands involved as well. Chaining up, tossing tarps over a flatbed, and even getting in and out of the truck can be a recipe for slip and falls, shoulder injuries, and more. Better balance, flexibility, core strength, and a healthy weight will all play a large role in injury prevention. Injury prevention means more time driving and earning money, and less time sitting at home wishing you were healthy and could work.

Not convinced? If safety isn’t enough of a persuasion for a driver to get healthy, consider this: truckers spend long days and often weeks at a time away from home, meaning time spent with family is limited at best. Once home, it’s difficult for an unhealthy, exhausted driver to make the most of their time with their family. Their own frustrations, anger, and stress may get in the way, and further disrupt their relationships.

Spending time with family during working years isn’t the only time they’ll want with them – chances are every driver out there is looking forward to retirement, whether it’s set for a year from now, or 30. But if their retirement is plagued with illness, that’s quality time won’t be very high quality. Getting and staying healthy during the younger years will set a driver up for a healthier, happier, more enjoyable retirement, spent with friends, grandchildren, and other important people.

I could go on for days about the importance of driver health, but I think I’ve said enough for today. Now that I’ve hopefully peaked your interest in improving your health (whether you’re a driver or not), my posts will begin to dive deeper into showing you how to do so, one step at a time. I want you to be healthier, so you can be safer, happier, and get the most out of your life.

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Andrea Morley is the lead nutritionist and health coach at Healthy Trucker (a division of NAL Insurance), where she educates and motivates drivers and office staff across the industry to improve their health through simple, consistent changes in their diet and exercise routines. She has a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition from the University of Guelph, and is passionate about wellness and helping others reach their goals. She can be contacted at amorley@healthytrucker.com

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  • Hello Andrea, so glad your bogging and welcome to your first message, looking forward to reading your insights and learning from your wealth of knowledge, all the best.

    Ray Haight