Having been a professional truck driver and trainer for more than 30 years, I find that you never, ever know it all. There are always new things to learn. My primary goal with this blog is to help other drivers (especially newer ones) with pertinent information and tips to enable them to work happier and more safely. Guest posts, contributors and feed-back are always welcome and wanted!
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Drivers are at Risk
Tips to a healthy lifestyle on the road.
Article thanks to rolling strong.com. Links provided:
July, 2014 Driver health is an issue. But you can use the truck as an exercise machine to lower the risk, and get healthier, less stressed and look better too.
Truck drivers are at risk. It’s a disproportionately high risk due to fatal crash-related injuries but also because drivers are over-represented in numbers of the working population for serious health disorders. While the figure is 10 years old, the numbers from a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report in 2004 show a fatality rate for American heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers was 48.2 per 100,000 workers, approximately 11 times the rate for the general worker population. While there are a lot of crash-related fatalities, the alarming thing is how many are related to poor health.
This report does not stand alone. Study after study reports that the general health and even life expectancy of the driver is, on average much less than others in the American workforce. The latest report released only this last January in theAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicineconcludes:
Obesity (69% of drivers versus 31% of the general population) and current smoking (51% vs. 19%) were twice as prevalent in long‐haul truck drivers as in the 2010 United States adult working population. Further, 61% reported having two or more of the risk factors: hypertension, obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, no physical activity, six or fewer hours of sleep per 24‐hr period.
Obviously, this needs to be corrected if you, as a driver, are going to enjoy a long, healthy and rewarding life.
Fortunately, it is a field where things are looking up. And leading the charge is Bob Perry, president and founder of the organization, Rolling Strong.
Some of us remember Perry when he first came around the truck shows something like 20 years ago. Then he had the greatest difficulty getting anybody’s ear but he persisted and now, if you go to Rolling Strong’s website,http://rollingstrong.com (note there’s no www) you’ll see the change. In fact, you’ll be amazed at what he’s managed to achieve in terms of spreading awareness, in getting gyms installed at truckstops, in getting gym access at more than 1,000 locations nationwide through his access card. He even shows how you can use your truck as an exercise machine. But his greatest achievement may be the FIT exercise equipment that allows drivers to get a cardio-vascular and strength workout in the privacy of the truck cab.
The kit can be purchased at the website, but last year Freightliner announced it was to offer the FIT, with the acronym customized to Freightliner In-Cab Training system, as a factory-supplied option. When it’s ordered, the Cascadia interior gets mildly modified with built-in attachment points to make the set-up of the FIT exercise bands even simpler than the standard accessory kit from Rolling Strong.
Exercise Around the Truck
But even without the exercise kit, as a driver, you can use the truck to help you address weight and get more exercise to reduce problems like hypertension (high blood pressure) and the heightened risk of diabetes and heart problems.
For a start, you can practice parking at the most distant part of the truckstop lot. This will increase the distance you walk every day. Medical experts like Dr. Valentina Ugolini, a cardiologist featured on a trucker exercise DVD calledTruckercise, mentions the American Heart Associations’ recommendation that you should try to get 30 minutes of exercise daily, half aerobic and half isometric. Aerobic refers to large muscle movement to get you heart rate elevated; isometric helps build strength in the muscles.
In the latest driving hours regulation that went into effect July last year, there is a requirement for a half-hour break after a maximum drive/on-duty time of eight hours. That could of course, be a meal break. Or it could be part of a daily health regimen where you fill the half-hour with exercise, over and above the longer walk from the truck to the restaurant.
At Perry’s Rolling Strong website, there’s lots of good advice, but his tips for a truck-based workout include:
Using the truck as a measured distance and then walking around it till you’ve achieved your target distance;
Using the lower step as a stair climber by stepping up and down with a stretch between each set;
Leaning into the fender and pushing away as a mild push-up exercise;
Holding on to the bumper to steady yourself as you do a series of squats.
You can add to this. One suggestion is to use any access steps to the frame behind the cab as a stair-climber. This will give a more vigorous work-out but you have to be careful: a slip or fall could hurt you and set back your new fitness program.
Push-up and sit-ups can be done anywhere, though until you get buffed out, you may want to do them in the privacy of the sleeper. In fact, you can do a whole-body workout in the sleeper. An excellent website with everything you need to know about weight reduction and getting more fit is at www.thehealthytrucker.net. There’s a lot of material on exercising, but there’s also a lot on healthier eating habits as well, and if you’re going to work on getting fitter, you might as well help the program along by making healthier eating choices on the road.
In the Truckercise DVD there’s more about exercises you can do actually sitting in the seat and holding the steering wheel. Each is relatively undemanding, yet by doing a series of repetitions; you can get quite a workout. Suggested exercises are stand-ups. With the seat all the way back, you hold on to the wheel and stand up. Not difficult, but do it 100 times and you get quite the workout. Raising one leg then the other while seated doesn’t seem like much until you’ve done it 100 times for each leg, alternating if you want.
The DVD is not by any means a big-bucks production, but it is very inexpensive and has some good workouts, some using light weights that you can purchase at any sporting goods store. Arm curls and presses with different weights, progressing as the muscles return to strength, are going to give you the aerobic and isometric workout together.
You could get an exercise bike into the sleeper, but a much better idea is to carry a folding bike up behind the cab, especially during the months with better weather. For one, the bike will stay cleaner and, for another, you’ll feel much more encouraged to go for a ride and see a little of the surroundings.
Exercise is especially important for drivers. The length of time seated at the wheel has to be compensated with exercise at least a half hour every day. Driving is a risky business with the potential of being hurt in an accident. You prevent that by exercising your driving skills. You don’t want to compound this with elevated risk of medical issues. Especially since, by exercising – period — you can actually do something about your health.
Sidebar — Get FIT
In January, Covenant Transport announced that it has ordered the FIT system for its fleet. Recognizing the value of fit, healthy drivers, the Chattanooga, Tenn.,-based truckload carrier is one of the first major fleets to order the exercise and flexibility system as a reward and health incentive for its drivers.
“Wellness employee initiatives are not new to Covenant Transport,” said Joey Hogan, president of Covenant Transport. “We have been working with all of our employees to develop an intense program that provides the tools, coaching and incentives to motivate good health. The FIT System extends our healthy programs and helps keep our professional drivers safe and healthy.”
The FIT System features a triple-grip handle, which enables users to interchange three bands to change resistance levels. The system uses existing seat tether and bunk resistant mounting points for installing custom brackets, which makes the system easy to attach and use.
At Freightliner, the system is available as a factory-installed option in 72-inch raised roof Freightliner Cascadia sleeper cab models. It can be retrofit in Cascadia, Coronado, Century Class and Columbia sleepers. In fact, it is available from Rolling Strong website (http://rollingstrong.com) as a kit to use in any tall sleeper. The tall sleeper is required if the full regimen of exercises is to be accommodated.
The three handles plus different ratings for the bungy cords allow for a gradual increase in workout intensity. The different exercises give a full-body workout, says Bob Perry, the founder of Rolling Strong and the creator of the FIT kit and the workout routine.