Professional Drivers work 14 hour days, 11 of them spent sitting behind the wheel. Inactivity is just one of the many challenges facing truckers today. Over the next few months, I will be addressing each of the challenges facing us out here on the road.
- limited physical activity
- irregular work/sleep schedules
- long hours
- restricted access to healthy dietary options
- increased stress levels
This article will focus on the need to MOVE our bodies and teach us to recognize how little activity we experience on a day to day basis.
Battle of the Bulge
In 2015, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) surveyed OTR truckers. Their findings were upsetting, but won’t be surprising to drivers out on the road.
The survey found that over two-thirds of them were obese (69%), as defined by a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, and 17% were morbidly obese (BMI of 40 or higher). In comparison, only one-third of U.S. working adults were reported to be obese, and 7% morbidly obese.
See the original article here.
The data above is more troubling than it appears. The data is five years out of date. It will only have gotten worse, today.
Many different wearable tech devices can help you track your fitness. Movement (steps), exercise, stairs climbed and standing. Most of which are a good deal cheaper than my Apple Watch. I use an Apple Series 5 Watch because it does a lot more for me than track my fitness. It’s also the device I own and understand (which makes it particularly convenient). Everything you will find below will easily translate to another manufacture’s device. For the purposes of this article, I will discuss only the functions I think are essential for improved driver health.
When I first purchased and set up my Apple Watch, I decided to change nothing in my daily routine for two days. What I learned was troubling.
I walked less than 2,000 steps each day and stood for more than five minutes, only three hours a day. I knew from the size of my waistline that I wasn’t getting enough exercise, but I never imagined how bad things were.
The Apple Watch won’t force me to get up and move around, but it will remind me to stand up and move. It tracks my movement visually, providing me with something that I didn’t even realize I needed. Data. Without information, you can’t make any intelligent choices.
Move your body!
You need to find reasons to get up and move your body. It is far to easy to curl up on the bunk and watch TV or even sit in the driver’s seat, and people watch. How can you create reasons to walk? You can park in the back row of the truck stops. Go inside and walk around the truck stop if the weather outside is terrible. In good weather, walk around the parking lot. Walking vigorously, you can cover two (2) miles in 30 minutes or so. Walk to nearby stores and shops. You don’t have to spend money. You need to keep moving. The movement will raise your heart rate. (This is the other half of the equation)
How’s your heart?
The Apple Watch tracks my heart rate. When I’m exercising, walking, and resting. In my first two days with the device, my heart rate barely got over 90bpm (beats/minute). Every doctor will tell you this, coupled with bad diet and obesity, is an excellent way to end up dead. At a vigorous walking speed, you can quickly get your heart rate to over 120/130bpm while barely working up a sweat.
The Apple Watch won’t solve your problems for you. It won’t make you thin. It won’t lower your blood pressure. It won’t reduce your risk of diabetes. It will provide you with the information you need to combat each of those issues and more. If I employed company drivers in a fleet, I would give each of them some form of wearable fitness technology at no charge to them. If for no other reason than to extend their useful life to the company that has already invested an enormous amount of time and money training and equipping these individuals.