Three Reasons Why Your Health Matters
You might not realize it, but as a professional driver, you face health challenges many other people don’t. Spending 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. Those are three good reasons why you should care about your health and make it a priority.
Good health can make your life better:
- Being healthy allows you to enjoy life more, without physical limitation 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 improve your physique, which might make 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 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 commercial vehicle safely requires skill, good judgment and constant alertness. That’s why professional drivers must undergo regular medical examinations to determine if they are healthy enough to drive safely. 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.
Your health can impact safety. To be safe, it’s important to be focused and alert at all times while driving. Your level of alertness can depend on how well you have slept. But if you are one of the estimated 10 percent of drivers who experience moderate to severe sleep apnea, you may not be getting the sleep you need to feel completely rested and alert.1 Obesity is a dominant risk factor associated with sleep apnea, which means keeping a healthy weight can help reduce your risk of developing sleep apnea.
Tips for Getting on the Road to Better Health2
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. Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat and alcohol.
- Be active. Be active at least 2 ½ hours a week. 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 people require 7-9 hours of sleep each day to feel fully rested and alert.
- See your doctor. Ask how you can lower your risk for health problems. Ask about exams, tests and shots you need and when you need them.
1 A Study of Prevalence of Sleep Apnea Among Commercial Truck Drivers, FMCSA Tech Brief, July 2002.
2 Source: Tips for a Safe and Healthy Life, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov/family/tips