Our waistlines are just as important as our bottom lines

The section on sleep disturbances is particularly interesting for our industry governed by fatigue management yet as many as 80 per cent of Australian truck drivers are considered overweight.

According to the Assessing Fitness to Drive, excessive weight can lead to poor memory and concentration, morning headaches and insomnia, type 2 diabetes and difficult to control high blood pressure can also indicate sleep apnoea.

These are clearly underlying factors to driver fatigue that need more than a log book to regulate. We need to get serious about health in our industry. That’s why The Healthy Truckie started by Ingrid Yuile is such a simple and important initiative for anyone behind the wheel of a truck in Australia.

Ingrid was scanning people that had to stop work early because their blood sugar was out of control, or they had retired but were suffering the consequences of chronic disease developed over three decades of driving.

She wanted to help truckies in get in shape and started an online resource and Facebook community with simple tips and ideas to take on the road and develop healthy habits. I encourage you to check out this important initiative at www.thehealthytruckie.com.au and download some of the recipes you can take on the road with you.

Three simple tips the Healthy Truckie offers for truckies on the road include swapping soft drinks and energy drinks for water, removing the batter from fried fish or chicken, and including exercise into a daily routine. It doesn’t have to be for a long time, start out with simple exercises and create a circuit and then gradually increase the number of repetitions over time.

Of course taking care of our health and wellbeing isn’t just about our bodies – it is also about our mental wellbeing. It is not something Australian men are particularly good at talking about, but we need to. We also need to reach out to our mates with a guide for mental first aid.

October includes National Mental Health Week as well as World Mental Health Day on October 10. I encourage you to access a range of online resources to help foster important conversations about health and wellbeing.

The NatRoad Members Area has several Toolbox Talks that can help you start important conversations in your workplaces and with your fellow drivers about anxiety, depression, substance abuse and other wellbeing challenges. 

Working away from family and friends inevitably takes a toll on people; especially if they’re dealing with issues at home. We need to remind workmates to watch out for the subtle changes that suggest someone isn’t coping so well.

We know that people are more likely to turn to family, friends and workmates during times of stress, so it’s vital that workmates are empowered to have open and non-judgemental conversations.

It’s not about fixing someone’s problems – it’s about giving them the confidence and reassurance that they’re not alone. And – if necessary – being positive about the role of health experts in improving mental wellbeing.

If you need to talk, pick up the phone to Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 036.

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