You might not realize it, but as a professional driver, you face health challenges many other people don’t. Spending many hours behind the wheel each day can make it hard to stay fit. Driving in traffic can be stressful and exhausting. Healthy meal options can be hard to find. Irregular schedules, customer demands and poor sleeping conditions can make it hard to get enough quality sleep. Over time, these factors can affect your well-being, your career and your safety, three good reasons why you should care about your health.
1. Your Well-being
Good health can make your life better:
- Being healthy allows you to enjoy life more. It helps you avoid physical limitations that can keep you from pursuing a hobby or joining in activities with family and friends.
- Regular exercise and eating healthy can boost your energy and improve your mood. It can also help you feel better about your appearance and improve your self-esteem.
- You might live longer. Research shows that a healthy lifestyle can add years to your life. The opposite is also true. Unhealthy habits, such as smoking, not exercising or getting enough sleep, and eating unhealthy foods, can shorten your life.
- It can help you save money. Avoiding chronic health conditions can help you save money on prescription drugs, doctor visits and medical procedures.
Driving a heavy truck safely requires skill, good judgment and constant alertness. Your health can have an impact on your driving, so it is important as a professional driver that you undergo regular medical exams and certification. Common health conditions that can lead to disqualification include heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and sleep apnea. These conditions can be improved, or avoided altogether, by living a healthy lifestyle. The bottom line: staying healthy is important to keep your medical certification — and your driving career — on track.
3. Your Safety and the Safety of Others
Serious crashes have occurred as a result of drivers experiencing health emergencies while driving. Staying healthy, seeing your doctor regularly and seeking treatment for medical problems can help keep you and others on the road safe.
Tips for Getting on the Road to Better Health
Staying healthy isn’t always easy, but considering the impact it can have on your life and career, it’s important. Focus on the key steps to living a safe and healthy life:
- Eat healthy. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day. Avoid foods and drinks high in calories, sugar and saturated/trans fats. Limit alcohol.
- Be active. Be active at least 2.5 to 5.0 hours a week.1 Include activities that raise your breathing and heart rate and strengthen your muscles. This can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce high blood pressure, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancer.
- Quit smoking. People who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk for disease and early death.
- Get adequate sleep. Most healthy adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep each day to feel fully rested.2
- See your doctor. Ask how you can lower your risk for health problems. Ask about any exams, tests and medications you need and when you need them.
1 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.
2 Recommended Hours of Sleep, National Sleep Foundation, online infographic accessed 1/11/19, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need