Would your truck drivers flunk the fitness test?

July 26, 2016
The need for health knowledge in trucking

How well do you know basic fitness and nutritional concepts, such as the recommended daily calorie intake for adults or whether you can turn fat into muscle or not? More importantly, how many of the truck drivers piloting your big rigs understand such “basic” concepts? For those are concepts that not only affect their health and overall quality of life, but can impact the safe operation of commercial vehicles, too.

The bad news, according to a recent global survey by fitness firm Nautilus, Inc., is that less than half of Americans (42%) and Europeans (39%) maintain an accurate grasp of basic personal health and fitness concepts.

[Want to see how you measure up? Take this online quiz to find out.]

In fact, this global poll of 2,600 men and women aged 18 and older conducted by Survey Sampling International for Nautilus found low levels of health and fitness knowledge across all major European nations as well: France (37%), Germany (40%), Italy (38%), Spain (38%), and the U.K. (39%).

"When it comes to health and fitness, this data shows there is room for improvement on both sides of the Atlantic. And it starts at home with the personal health and fitness choices we make every day," explained Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist, certified sports nutritionist and fitness advisor to Nautilus, Inc.

"Knowledge is the first step in encouraging us to make smart decisions about what we eat and to get us moving," he said.

This is a big deal especially for trucking, as poor health is a becoming a bigger factor fueling the ongoing truck driver shortage.

While there’s still a lot to be learned about the connections between health and safety where truck drivers are concerned – and often just small changes can make a big difference in a truck driver’s overall health profile – establishing a baseline of fundamental knowledge is key to kick-starting any such health-focused process, noted Bruce Cazenave, CEO of Nautilus.

“This year's survey demonstrates that there is still work to be done around educating consumers to make smart choices about their health - not only in the U.S., but abroad as well," he pointed out.

Here are some of the “common misconceptions around nutrition, exercise and workouts” that persist on an international scale, according to the Nautilus survey:

  • More than half of Americans (55%) and Europeans (61%) did not know the recommended daily calorie intake for adults, which is about 2,000 calories.
  • About 48% of Americans and 53% of Europeans believe that fat can turn into muscle as a result of weight training (it can’t).
  • Over half of Europeans (59%) did not understand the wide spectrum of benefits that strength training can offer, which include: improving cardio fitness, burning calories and fat, and aiding in weight loss.
  • Only 36% of Europeans and 23% of Americans could accurately define “body weight” exercises - strength training moves that do not require free weights but rather use an individual's own weight to provide resistance (example: pushups and pull ups).
  • A high number of Europeans (71%) could not correctly identify a “functional fitness” exercise, such as squatting.
  • More than 60% of both Americans and Europeans did not know that sweating more during a workout can indicate a higher level of personal fitness.

However, there are several “bright spots” in this survey, Nautilus noted.

For example, nearly half of Europeans (49%) understand what happens to the body after an individual stops working out - muscle starts to atrophy or waste away. In addition, many Americans (70%) and Europeans (78%) know that walking a mile doesn't burn the same number of calories as running a mile, the poll found.

That being said, there’s still an awful lot of room for improvement in terms of establishing basic nutrition and fitness knowledge – definitely something that needs to be paid attention to in trucking as well.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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