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Truck driver health: Keeping fit in a sedentary job

Truck drivers play a crucial role in the transportation industry, ensuring the timely delivery of goods and services across the nation. 

However, the nature of their job requires sitting for extended periods, often exceeding the recommended limits set by health professionals. In fact, prolonged sitting has been associated with numerous health risks that significantly affect truckers’ safety and well-being. 

In this article, we explore the truck driver health dangers associated with long hours of sitting. Then we’ll outline the steps you can take to mitigate these risks and lead a healthier lifestyle.

And when you’re finished reading, check out the other articles in our ‘Trucker health and fitness’ series:

10 ways sitting too long affects truck driver health

Obviously keeping fit is important for everyone, regardless of occupation. But staying healthy for truck drivers is also a career concern. Truckers who develop medical conditions affecting their driving abilities can lose their CDLs as they also lose their health.

Knowing about the occupational hazards of trucking is the first step toward avoiding them. Prolonged sitting while driving a truck can lead to the following major truck driving health risks:

  1. Obesity – A sedentary lifestyle coupled with limited exercise opportunities and limited food options can lead to weight gain and obesity. Obesity increases the risk of various health problems, including diabetes, stroke and certain cancers. CDC research indicates that truckers are twice as likely to be obese than other U.S. workers.
  2. Cardiovascular diseases – Studies have shown that prolonged sitting is linked to increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. All are  significant contributors to cardiovascular diseases.
  3. Musculoskeletal disorders – Long hours of sitting can result in poor posture and muscle imbalances, causing back, neck, and shoulder pain. Additionally, truckers may develop musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome and sciatica due to the repetitive nature of their work.
  4. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – Prolonged sitting may increase the risk of blood clots forming in the legs, known as deep vein thrombosis. DVT can be life-threatening if a blood clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
  5. Varicose veins – Poor blood circulation in the legs from extended periods of sitting can result in the development of varicose veins. Varicose veins can be both painful and unsightly.
  6. Mental health issues – The isolated and sedentary nature of truck driving can contribute to feelings of loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression. Each one can negatively impact a driver’s mental health.
  7. Sleep disorders – Irregular sleep schedules and poor sleep quality are common among truck drivers due to the demands of their job. As a result, they’re at higher risk of disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea.
  8. Digestive problems – A sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits can lead to gastrointestinal issues including acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome.
  9. Diabetes – Prolonged sitting and inactivity can increase insulin resistance, raising the risk of developing type two diabetes.
  10. Fatigue – Sitting for long periods can lead to fatigue, which can negatively impact reaction times, decision-making and overall driving performance. Accidents are significantly more likely when drivers aren’t 100% alert.

Tips for avoiding the health risks of prolonged sitting

Fortunately, truck driver health isn’t a lost cause. In fact, drivers can and should take proactive steps to stay fit and avoid the issues associated with sedentary work.

Here are five important tips for mitigating the risks associated with sedentary behaviors:

Take regular breaks

Truck drivers should stop every couple of hours to stretch, walk around, and engage in light physical activity. Doing so helps to promote circulation and prevent muscle stiffness.

Maintain proper posture

Adjusting the seat, steering wheel, and mirrors to ensure a comfortable and ergonomically sound driving position is essential. Using lumbar support can help maintain the natural curve of the lower back. 


Simple exercises like ankle pumps, leg lifts and shoulder rolls can be performed seated to help maintain strength and flexibility. Invest in small exercise equipment that you can safely stow in your cab and use during breaks.

You should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, such as brisk walking, swimming or cycling. Strength training exercises for all major muscle groups should ideally be performed at least two days per week. Research trucker-friendly gyms with parking along your routes, or find out which truck stops offer express work-out facilities.

Stay hydrated 

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is crucial for maintaining proper hydration. Dehydration can contribute to fatigue, muscle cramps and other health issues.

Eat healthily 

Stick to meals rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats both on and off the road. Avoiding sugary, fatty or processed foods can help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent diet-related health issues. 

Consider packing healthy meals and snacks when possible to avoid the temptation of high-calorie fast foods. If restaurants are unavoidable, research the ones with relatively healthy menu items so you can plan your meal stops accordingly.

Get enough sleep

Prioritizing seven to nine hours of sleep per night ensures proper rest and recovery. A well-rested driver is less likely to suffer from fatigue and associated health risks.

Manage stress 

Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation or mindfulness. If you aren’t sure how, look online for mobile app recommendations to coach you through the process.  

Cue up lighthearted podcasts or favorite songs for those times you’re stressed behind the wheel and can’t stop to meditate. Remaining calm helps you think more clearly and helps to protect your mental and physical well-being.

Wear compression stockings

Wearing compression stockings may improve your blood circulation, reduce varicose veins and swelling, and prevent blood clots. They may not be cute, but at least fashion police citations won’t affect your CSA score.

Also, given the unique risks inherent in driving for a living, make sure to schedule regular health check-ups. Take these routine opportunities to discuss occupational health risks and tips with your medical provider. Good truck driver health insurance coverage helps to create a partnership between truckers and healthcare professionals.

Don’t take trucking occupational hazards sitting down

Due to the sedentary nature of their jobs, truck driver health has deservedly become a growing concern in the industry. 

By recognizing the dangers of prolonged sitting and inactivity, and following the tips outlined above, truckers can avert health disaster. Regular exercise, proper food and rest, and effective stress management strategies can help drivers extend their careers — and their lives. 

Keep in mind that truck driver health problems can have far-reaching effects. As a result, addressing them should be a priority for the entire freight industry. Happier, healthier drivers are, after all, safer and more productive behind the wheel.


What is the number one health problem with truck drivers?

Prolonged sitting while driving a truck is associated with several occupational health risks, but obesity may be the most serious. Obesity increases the risk of many health problems, including diabetes, stroke and certain cancers.

How do truck drivers stay fit and healthy?

Regular exercise, proper food and rest, and effective stress management strategies are some of the ways truckers can remain healthy.

Is truck driving hard on your body?

Any job that entails prolonged sitting and inactivity can be hard on the body. Workers can take steps to mitigate the health risks of sedentary jobs, including truck driving.

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