Trucking has its downsides and its perks. Good pay, independence, and job security are common pros. But one of the major concerns about a career in trucking is the toll it can take on health. That’s why driver health and fitness should be a priority for every company.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other research, truck drivers (compared to other workers) are more likely to suffer from:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Low (or no) physical activity
- Chronic lack of sleep
Drivers are also twice as likely to smoke compared with other U.S. employees, and smoking increases the risk of conditions like heart disease, cancer, stroke, and emphysema.
Thankfully, companies are catching on to the importance of healthy drivers, which benefits everyone.
How Companies Can Prioritize Driver Health and Fitness
Drivers who pay attention to their health are more likely to have better productivity, happier attitudes, more energy, and greater overall happiness. This can create a ripple effect for your company.
Here are some ideas for how to keep your fleet healthy.
Healthy and Fitness Apps
Many companies — and not just trucking companies — encourage the use of wellness apps for their employees. Phone apps can help drivers track and improve their fitness and dietary patterns.
MyFitnessPal, Iron Trucker, and HealthyOut (that helps you find better eating options on the road) are examples of apps that can help drivers get and stay in better shape. Some apps provide personalized suggestions based on your lifestyle and weight goals.
Company Wellness Programs
Wellness programs help encourage drivers to live better and feel better, but there are not enough carriers doing them yet. That’s sad because driver health and fitness impacts everything, including the company bottom line. The ROI includes:
- Fewer healthcare and workers’ compensation costs
- Higher driver morale and productivity
- Better recruitment and retention rates
Companies can create their own program or work with a third-party company. For example, Rolling Strong provides programs tailored to those who drive for a living.
Before starting a company program, talk to your drivers. Ask about their biggest health concerns and what will and won’t work well for them. The person creating the program probably isn’t a long haul trucker — so they should thoroughly understand what wellness services truckers need.
How do you get people more interested in your program? Offering incentives is a great place to start.
An Inbound Logistics survey found that almost 85 percent of carriers provide some type of benefit for drivers participating in wellness programs. Those benefits could be extra PTO, money bonuses, or health insurance premium discounts.
Encourage Small Changes
Let’s face it: Trucking is not a career that easily supports a healthy lifestyle. Drivers should not expect to go from 100 percent sedentary to a muscle machine overnight — employees should encourage small health steps that feel doable to most drivers.
Small shifts might include:
- Replacing sugary drinks with low-calorie or sugar-free options
- Swapping fried fast food choices for healthier alternatives
- Exercising in 10 to 15-minute spurts
- Aiming for 15-30 minutes more sleep per night (and moving up from there)
- Breathing deeply for a few minutes
Truck Stops Are Catching Up
Truck stops have long been known for less-than-ideal healthy food options. But times are a-changin’. Healthy snack options at truck stops are increasing, and programs like Travel Centers of America’s StayFit make it easier for drivers to choose health.
Support Your Drivers’ Wellness Journeys
Company wellness programs can help truckers know how to choose healthier food options, fit in bursts of exercise, and work towards stress reduction. Healthy drivers also require less sick time, feel better on the job, and lead to a better ROI for both drivers and companies.
Besides all of the above pros, supporting driver health is also just the right thing to do as a thank you for the service your drivers provide.