Commentary: Truckers need to work at being heart-healthy

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.  

This information came from Julia B., outreach coordinator at forhims. The information is very worthwhile, and much more is available from the American Heart Association, your company, your physician, etc. Take care of yourself and live longer! You are important!

February is National Heart Month!

Truck drivers know how difficult it can be to live a healthy lifestyle while they’re on the road and in fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that compared to the national working population, the prevalence of obesity for long-haul truck drivers is twice as high (69% compared to 31%). Because obesity can significantly increase the risk of heart disease, here are some simple, yet effective ways truck drivers can improve their heart health.

Get your rest

Good sleeping habits are crucial for heart health. Adults who sleep less than seven hours each night are more at risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

To sleep better, park your truck in a quieter (and safe) area, if possible. Block out as much light as possible with curtains or truck shades. An alternative would be to use an eye mask. To block noise, use earplugs or a “white noise” machine.

(Photo credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

 Find a convenient and healthy diet

If you don’t have the time or opportunity to pack a lunch or snack, opt for the healthiest options you can find. Healthy snacks include: 

  • Granola bars (with low sugar)
  • Nuts (lightly salted almonds)
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Hummus and veggies or crackers

Healthy fast food options:

  • Salads (use light dressing)
  • Chicken or turkey wraps
  • Sandwiches made with whole-grain bread
(Photo credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Stay active

Your heart is a muscle (probably your most important one), so it will get stronger and healthier with an active lifestyle. Here are six simple exercises:

  • Lunges
  • Squats
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Walking/jogging
  • Planks

Manage your stress

When you feel high amounts of stress or anxiety, that can lead to a surge of adrenaline, which increases your heartbeat and breathing rate. Frequent adrenaline surges then lead to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Stress-relieving techniques include:

  • Meditating or breathing exercises
  • Listening to calming music or a podcast
  • Visualizing something you enjoy (a “happy place”)
  • Relaxing your muscles and stretching

Know the signs

Try to understand what symptoms may arise if you’re at risk for heart disease. Some common heart symptoms are fatigue, shortness of breath, swollen feet or ankles and heart palpitations. But there are also some lesser-known symptoms of heart disease like erectile dysfunction.

(Photo credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Have your annual physical exam

Regular checkups with your doctor are crucial for heart health, as they can identify any possible heart problems early while they are easier to treat. You can also use this opportunity to share any concerns you might have about your heart health, such as, if you’re experiencing symptoms you’re unsure about.

Celebrate American Heart Month by incorporating some of these tips into your day-to-day life, or, use them as a checklist to see if you’re prioritizing your heart health while on the road. Take pride in even the smallest of victories and share them with the people you care about most.

(Photo credit: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)