Delivery drivers: How to stay healthy on the road
It’s no secret that men have a shorter life expectancy than women, but, how often do we ask why? Here at Parcel2Go we aim to shed some light on health issues commonly affecting men, and to offer guidance on living a healthier life and to raise awareness of major health risks to promote early detection.
As we are a parcel comparison site, we wanted to focus on our industry and highlight the challenges, pressures and health issues that affect men within the logistics business, in particular delivery drivers. There are a number of health risks that are associated with professional drivers including musculoskeletal problems, obesity, heart problems, high blood pressure and cancer. This is due to the lengthy, irregular hours, poor diet, long periods of sitting and sometimes transporting/handling hazardous substances.
With the increase in online shopping and high demand on companies to fulfil deliveries, pressure on delivery drivers is at an all time high. And while sitting in a van or lorry all day can’t be avoided due to the nature of the job, there are certain things you can do to help stay healthy at work and minimise the risk of developing any serious problems.
- When possible, get out and stretch your legs
This is a really key point – it might not always be possible, especially if you’re an HGV driver and do long stretches on the motorway, however, it’s recommended to get up and stretch your legs at least once an hour. There have been many studies in recent years such as and which indicate that sitting for long periods can lead to obesity, heart disease and depression, as well as joint and muscle issues.
If you deliver parcels you may stop more frequently than once an hour, we recommend taking a little longer outside of the vehicle and stretch before you get back in. For more long-haul drivers, try to stop as frequently as possible at rest stops and have a short 10-minute stroll and stretch.
- Take your own lunch – preferably a healthy one
There have been many surveys over the years indicating that the majority of male drivers are in fact over weight (a study shows), this isn’t only a danger to your own health, but also to the safety of other road users as obesity can lead to sleep apnoea and other issues which can affect your ability to drive safely. Diet is the key to weight loss and it’s all too easy when you’re driving all day to stop at the nearest drive through or service station and grab a quick, unhealthy meal to see you through the rest of your shift. We suggest prepping your meals in advance and taking a packed lunch, this small change could greatly improve the quality of your diet. Not only will this stop you from buying a processed sandwich or a burger and fries ‘on the go’, meal prepping is significantly cheap, so it will also save you some money!
- Drink LOTS of water
Yes, you’ve heard this a million times before, but drinking at least 2 litres of water a day is essential to good health and if you drive professionally, then it’s even more important. Studies have shown that driving dehydrated is just as bad as driving drunk – it can negatively affect reaction time, focus, concentration, give you headaches and drowsiness. We suggest investing in a water bottle that can easily be refilled, sip on it regularly throughout your day to ensure you’re getting enough. If you’re not the biggest fan of plain old water, add some of your favourite fruit to give it some flavour. This will likely significantly reduce your sugar and caffeine intake -your body will thank you for it in the long run.
- Get enough rest
Although not necessarily a health issue, tiredness and fatigue can drastically impact your driving ability. According to the Almost 20% of accidents on major roads are sleep-related and 40% involve commercial vehicles, and a guide from says that on the road is where fatigue causes the most injuries and fatalities worldwide.
Tiredness, like dehydration reduces reaction time, concentration and focus, making it extremely dangerous for the driver and other road users/pedestrians. Fatigue and tiredness are easier to prevent than to cure, ensure you get between 7-8 hours sleep before your shift and take regular breaks. If you struggle to unwind and get a decent amount of sleep, try different techniques such as meditation, a warm bath, camomile tea or even reading a book to help you unwind before settling down for the night, according to the you should avoid caffeine and create a relaxing environment in your bedroom to aid a good nights sleep.
- Plan your day
Planning your day is important for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that you can schedule your much-needed breaks but also it will help relieve any stress or pressure. Being a professional driver means sticking to schedules and being required to deliver a certain number of parcels within an allotted time, however, this type of pressure has been proven in studies from the and to cause stress, anxiety and depression. If you know your route or schedule beforehand, we suggest mapping out and jotting down when you can have a break. We understand that it’s not always possible to take a full hour lunch break, so schedule at least a 10-15 minute break every 2 hours, not only will this break up your day, but it will also give you a clearer finish time!
- Exercise before or after your shift
Sitting behind the wheel all day is inevitably going to mean that you don’t get much chance to exercise or move about but that doesn’t mean you can’t fit it in before or after your shift. Whether it’s going for a walk, cycling, hitting the gym or having a kick about with the lads, getting in regular exercise has huge health benefits for your overall wellbeing. It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30% (according to ) as well as lowering body fat and increasing your energy levels. Where possible, try to fit in a 30-45 minute workout either before or after your shift, this will help compensate for sitting down in an enclosed space for the majority of the day – it will also help you sleep better meaning you’ll have more energy for work.
With so much research indicating that conditions such as obesity, cancer and heart issues are very prominent in professional drivers, aim to help raise awareness and encourage individuals and employers to create a healthier, safer work environment for all drivers and adopt a general healthier lifestyle.