Trucks at Work

All-day sitting a long-term problem

It’s no secret that leading a sedentary lifestyle engenders a much higher risk of health problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, even some cancers. Yet it’s also no secret that to drive big rigs for a living, you’ve got to sit – a LOT.

That’s why we’re starting to witness a renewed focus on driver health and wellness initiatives, with expectations for activity on this front to only increase.

Curiously, a recent survey found that a goodly proportion of Americans actually hate sitting down for large swaths of time … yet they still do it anyways, whether at work or at home.

This information comes from a poll conducted by Research Now back in June of 1,000 full time U.S. workers aged 18 or older on behalf of global furniture maker Ergotron.

Ergotron’s survey found that nearly 70% of full time American workers hate sitting, yet 86% do it all day, every day – and when they do get up, more than half (56%) use “getting food” as an excuse.

[Below, by the way, is some good insight for truck drivers about how to eat better when on the road.]

In total, Americans are sitting an average of 13 hours a day and sleeping an average of 8 hours resulting in a sedentary lifestyle of around 21 hours a day. Even though most Americans know about the importance of exercise, according to Ergoton’s poll, only 31% say they go to the gym.

On top of all of that sitting at work, and for meals and commuting, survey respondents added that they:

  • Sit another 1-2 hours while watching television (36%)
  • Sit down to play video games for another 1-2 hours (10%)
  • Lounge for 1-2 hours for things such as reading (25%)
  • Use their home computer for 1-2 hours (29%)

And remember: all this sitting is by the average full-time American worker. We haven’t even touched on the “seated demands” for truck drivers here, who are allowed to drive 11 hours during an on-duty shift of 14 hours.

[By the way, here are a few muscle stretches truckers can do to help them stay limber after sitting for long stretches.]

Ergotron’s survey also found that the vast majority (93%) of those responding to its poll didn't know what the term "Sitting Disease" is, but 74% believe that sitting too much could lead to an early death.

"Sitting Disease," by the way, is a term been coined by the scientific community used when referring to metabolic syndrome and the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle, noted Jane Payfer, an Ergotron spokesperson. [The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) touches on some of those issues in a truck driver health study you can access by clicking here.]

"Research is showing links between sedentary lifestyles and diabetes, several types of cancer, obesity and cardiovascular disease," she pointed out.

"There is a significant opportunity for people to change their behavior in the workplace and for corporations to change their culture,” added Payfer. “Standing increases energy, burns extra calories, tones muscles, improves posture, increases blood flow, reduces blood sugar levels and ramps up metabolism. Frequently overlooked, standing more is the simplest, easiest change someone can make."   

Yet it’s not something easily done where driving a truck for a living is concerned. Indeed, that’s one reason why, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the average life expectancy for a commercial truck driver is only 61 years – 16 years lower than the national average.

It’s also why health and wellness is going to be a bigger and bigger issue down the road for commercial vehicle operators – and that’s a good thing from where I sit. 

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