Average Life Expectancy for Professional Drivers
While trucking is an essential part of our society, the nature of the job does not lend itself to promoting good health. Professional truck drivers may have jobs that pay good money, but often have conditions leading to poor health.
What is the life expectancy of a truck driver, and why is it so low compared that of the average American?
According to recent driver health studies, the average lifespan of a professional truck driver is 61 years of age. Since the mean life expectancy for an American is about 78 years, that number falls a significant 17 years short. It should be noted that the majority of professional truck drivers in the US are male, so a comparison to the average lifespan of an American male might be more accurate. At 61 years, a truck driver will have a life that ends 15 years earlier than that of the average American man. These numbers are startling, and they won't go away unless drivers take immediate action to improve their health.
Professional drivers have such low life expectancies from a variety of factors. Weight issues are a big part of the concern. While about 26% of the population is considered obese, nearly half of all truck drivers are extremely overweight. There are many harmful consequences of being grossly overweight including high blood pressure, increased risk for heart attack and stroke, increased risk for diabetes, and more.
A few major theories explain why professional drivers might live shortened lives. The first is lack of exercise. The driver position requires that individuals remain seated in a cramped truck cabin for many hours at a time. Drivers may work anywhere between 8 and 16 hours in a single day. This type of work environment is detrimental to health because drivers rarely get any physical activity. One of the only chances a driver gets to exit the vehicle is when he needs to fill up the tank at a pit stop.
Poor diet is the next major cause of obesity and poor health in professional drivers. Since most are on very strict schedules and can be punished for not arriving at checkpoints on time, drivers usually resort to fast food for every single meal of the day. As many of you already know, the combination of poor diet and lack of exercise is a recipe for disaster.
What can professional drivers do to stay healthy while on the job?
While many drivers will try to make excuses for not having the time to live a healthy lifestyle, there is always something that you can do to improve your health. You don't need to make drastic changes to your lifestyle if things simply can't be helped. Many small changes can have the same effect.
When it comes to exercise, try to find a few minutes to perform some physical activity during your day. This can be done before, after, or even during your shifts. Take every chance you get to leave the driver's seat and walk around for a minute. Stretch your legs and your body, and try to get as much physical activity as possible with the limited amount of time you have. You could choose to run in place for a few minutes, or drop to the ground to do push-ups and sit-ups. Jumping jacks are a good cardiovascular exercise, and so are standing squats. If you simply can't exercise during your shift, make time for it before you head to work or before bed.
As for eating on the run, fast food may truly be the only option--but that doesn't mean you need to eat junk. Every fast food joint will have choices that are healthier and lower in calories than others. Choose your meal wisely, and go for items that are not deep-fried or extremely high in calories. Grilled meats are an excellent choice in sandwiches, and so are lots of vegetables. If you can resist it, pass on the mayo and other heavy sauces. When it comes to drinks, stick with water to avoid all the sugar and calories in sodas. As for desserts, don't eve bother. If you can find the time, try prepping meals before your shift. You can make yourself a much healthier meal at home compared to what you might get at most fast food restaurants.