Truck Driver Health: February Heart Health Awareness Month
This month is Heart Health Awareness Month, and we want every driver out there to be healthy. And to help with that, here are some strategies to consider to improve your truck driver’s health for life!
The human heart is a powerful thing. It’s a vital organ we cannot see but can feel. And unlike other organs in the body, our heart is one of our body’s most central parts. It is the mecca center for our emotional well-being and is often associated with social, mental, and emotional “heartache” or “happy heart” experiences in life. Our heart is central to all we do, feel, and experience. What you eat, how you behave, what you drink, how well you sleep, genetics (but let’s not just go and blame them), and how much you move all play into heart health. There are a wide variety of truck driver health issues and heart disease is one of them.
Today we will discuss the signs of heart issues and preventive measures you can start taking today to take back your health.
But our heart is more than that; our heart is a vital organ responsible for keeping us alive. It pumps oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout your body to sustain life. An organ no more significant than our fist beats (expands and contracts) 100,000 times per day, pumping five or six quarts of blood each minute, or about 2,000 gallons per day. THAT’S CRAZY!
Did you know about 2,200 Americans die each day from cardiovascular diseases? That’s about one every 40 seconds. And when not taken care of properly, we are putting our bodies at risk for a slew of complications.
When it comes to truck driver health issues, drivers are especially at risk for heart disease. In a study posted by the CDC, 26% of truck drivers said they had hypertension versus the 24% totaling the rest of the US working population. It is not uncommon to read about a story of a truck driver who went to bed in his truck and didn’t wake up the following day and climb out. Heart attacks are often the primary cause of this all too familiar scenario.
There are many reasons why being a driver is so hard on the heart, the stress of driving, the long hours, lack of (cardiovascular) activity, unhealthy diet, and a high sodium diet. But other factors may include diabetes, smoking, alcohol consumption, chronic dehydration, and bad cholesterol, which impact heart health. Truck driver health is not just you go going to the doctor to get your card, it’s about what you do each day you are out on the road. We need you and we need you to be a health driver.
Self-care on any level can often be the difference between living a healthy life and not. But even more importantly, waking up the following day or not. Do not be ignorant of this growing health concern. If you choose to live an unhealthy lifestyle, you choose health complications to be in your future you may not have truck driver health issues now, but many times, those issues are only waiting to rise to the surface.
Being a truck driver does not give you a free pass to extended care about your health. I have had the honor of working with thousands of truck drivers over the last four years, and most of them have come to realize that they can have both: a healthy lifestyle and trucking. It’s a choice, and you, my friend, get to choose.
Know the Signs to improve truck driver health:
When it comes to truck driver health, you are alone much of the time, which means self-responsibility is critical when you are at risk of a heart attack. You need to know the signs. Just like you need to know how to change a tire on your truck, replace a windshield wiper, or back up. You may be able to ask for help 99% of the time, and maybe you never have yet to rely on those “what if” skills. But for the time you do, why not be ready.
5 Signs to Pay Attention to for Truck Driver Health and Heart Health Awareness
- Dull ache chest pains are not to be confused with indigestion, which is often more abrupt and acidic.
- Rapid heartbeat, it’s essential to know your situation, are there other reasons that could be causing this right now)
- Pain in the arm and heart sends signals to surrounding nerves to alarm the body owner that something isn’t right.
- Jaw and or neck pain, which blood clots can often cause. It’s important to rule out things like clenching oral issues like cavities.
- Others include irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, tiredness, even depression or anxiety due to the sudden hormonal changes in your body.
Trucking can be a lonely profession; the next time you are at a truck stop and strike up a conversation, be kind, ask how their day is going and how they have been feeling, encourage them to take care of themselves. You never know when a kind word of encouragement from a stranger is just what the doctor ordered. By understanding the signs, you could save your life or even the life of a fellow driver.
February is Heart Health Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time for you to lace up your shoes, grab hold of the steering wheel, and change lanes towards better health. It’s never too late.
Tips for Preventative Heart Health Care During Heart Health Awareness Month
- Quit smoking. Yes, easier said than done, but as a recovering addict, I suggest starting slow. How about one less cigarette per day? Or how about swapping out a cigarette for a hemp one? There are dozens of programs and nicotine replacements to try out. The most important thing is is “try,” you won’t know until you try.
- Exercise. Yes, get up and get moving do a little trucking yoga, or get in a truck driver workout. Simple practices like walking build up heart health and help you burn more calories, get you breathing more profound, and as a truck driver, you have the advantage of getting outside and walking. Sure it might be a parking lot, but at least you are walking! A 200-pound man can burn right around 90 calories from just 30 minutes of a moderate to brisk-paced walk.
- Get more sleep. Quality sleep is crucial for our entire body to function optimally. Things like a quality mattress, a sleep mask, making sure you are warm enough and have the right amount of blankets on hand, even headphones to listen to relaxing music can make a mobile environment parked in a truck idling parking lot a bit more tranquil, and your heart will say thank you.
- Manage your stress. What can you do starting today to de-stress your life? Now don’t say quit your job, although that might help. What else can you take care of in your life to help curb your stress level? When you stop and take a step back, you can often see the accumulation of little things that create that stress bubble lingering in your life. How about limiting social media? When you feel down, depressed, lonely, or angry, call a friend who will listen and help steer you back to a healthy mindset. Drink a glass of water, smile; it’s hard to be angry or unhappy when you smile (it’s true our brain wants to be happy when we smile).
- Eat healthily. You are surrounded by fast-food restaurants and limited healthy food options. But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat healthily; it just means you have to put in a little extra effort. Try stocking up on nuts, seeds, fruit, and veggies like carrot sticks or celery; they travel well and give you that crunch you crave without the added calories and heart-threatening ingredients. Could you buy a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a fried one? Can you skip the fries and as for a side salad rather? Many fast-food restaurants will customize an order, but they won’t offer it; you have to ask first. No one is asking you to be perfect, and no one is requesting you never eat fast food again, but is there a healthier option available-pick that.
What you can do today to improve truck driver health issues like heart health:
Your health is in your hands—one of the most empowering things we can do as humans to take back our health. You may have been making poor heart health choices up to this point, and it’s time to make a shift. You can do this, here at Mother Trucker Yoga® we believe that it’s the small simple changes that lead to the big results so you can feel good again™. Don’t wait until it’s too late, take action, and what better time than during heart health awareness month.
Join the movement and join other drivers just like you who want to improve their health one step at a time.
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