There are all kinds of statistics out there now on the amount of sitting we actually do. If you sat back and really thought about it how many hours a day do you really sit? If you’re a Driver, I’m guessing that number is pretty high. Research shows that sitting for long periods of time is one of the things that reduces our life expectancy. Here’s why…
When we sit for long periods of time our body’s tissues, organs and metabolism aren’t engaged and the longer we sit, the less efficient our body’s system becomes. But it’s not just Drivers that are at risk. If you work in an office, chances are you are sitting most of the day too. We sit when we are eating, travelling to and from work in the car and many of us are so bagged by the end of the day we may just plop ourselves down in front of the TV after dinner for another few hours before heading to bed. Dr. Mark Tremblay, the director of Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research at the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa suggests that Canadian adults spend three-quarters of our waking hours each day sitting or reclining.
The longer you sit, the less efficient your body’s systems become. Eventually, they start to stumble. “The metabolism of fats and glucose gets disrupted, and you’re not burning many calories,” says Tremblay. “Your heart, lungs and muscles go into hibernation mode and they atrophy. Over time, they decay.” Pretty scary right? Your leg muscles, which are the largest muscle mass in your body, aren’t stimulated while sitting, “so you’re effectively shutting down large parts of your active tissue,” says Peter Katzmarzyk, an epidemiology professor and associate executive director for Population Science at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “Prolonged sitting turns an efficient body into a sluggish mass of unhealthy organs.”
I know what some of you are saying. I have no choice in the matter…I can’t get away without sitting. True, Drivers do need to sit to perform most of their job but there are things you can do when you are driving to keep the blood flowing such as:
- Periodic leg lifts and ankle turns circles (when you are parked and waiting to get unloaded).
- When you do get stopped for good, don’t head straight to the restaurant where you sit down again, try going for a brisk walk.
- Park further away and do a few extra circles (during your circle check) around the truck
- Find a spot that you can stand to eat? It would be great if more truck stops built stand up booths don’t ya think?
- Do exercises in and around the truck (see www.healthtrucker.com for some great exercise tips)
If you work in the office:
- Stand up when you are on the phone (maybe even get a head set)
Take the stairs
Have walking meetings
Go for short walks and grab some water
Try and stand and stretch every hour to get the blood flowing
Invest in a standing workstation
Invest in a stability ball chair
Go for a walk on your lunch (Many Brian Kurtz Trucking Employees go for a 1 o’clock walk)
Taking periodic breaks and especially taking a brisk walk at lunch will make you sharper and you will actually get more accomplished than if you stayed at your desk and munched on a sandwich.
Statistics show that a sedentary person may only average 1000-3000 steps per day. Experts suggest that we should be taking at least 10,000 steps per day. If the average persons stride length is approximately 2.5 feet long that means is takes around 2000 steps to walk 1 mile and over 10,000 steps to walk 5 miles.
One way to measure how much you are walking is to invest in a pedometer that measures every step that you take. Many of us in the office have purchased FitBit devices that we wear on our wrist (FitBIt Flex- about $100 at Best Buy or Future Shop) or a pedometer that you have clip to your belt (FitBit One – about $60). These unique activity monitors not only track your daily activities, but also measures your sleeping patterns. The information automatically synchronizes with your iPhone or smart phone so you can keep track of where you are at throughout the day. The coolest part about this system is that you can link your friends to your phone so you can hold each other accountable (inspire or even taunt each other) for your step goal. Even if you don’t have an iPhone or smartphone, the data will automatically sync with your computer when you get close to it.
If you are not walking much now, you may not want to push for 10,000 steps right away. It would be best just to increase your average daily steps each week by 500 per day until you hit your target. This means that if you are averaging 3000 steps each day now, your goal for week one will be 3500 each day…your goal for week two will be 4000 and so on until you reach your target.
In late March the management team from Healthy Trucker attended the Truckload Carriers Association Convention in Dallas where we hooked up the 11 TCA Officers with FitBit devices. We held a competition by tracking their steps over the three day convention and the results were automatically updated on the TCA Challenge leader board. It became a bit competitive as the officer that tracked the most steps during the convention would be awarded with 20 FitBIt devices to take back to their company to distribute to the drivers and staff.
Delegates also joined a side competition (for bragging rights) by hooking up a FitBit or downloading the Moves Application to their phone (turning their phone into a pedometer). The competition became the buzz of the convention. Rob Penner of Bison Transport led for most of the convention. Aaron Tennant of Tennant Truck Lines spent the final few hours in the gym and bypassed Penner at the end to win the challenge to take home top prize. Kathy Penner of Truck News claimed top prize (which was bragging rights) for the delegates.
It was amazing to see how competitive this event became. The TCA Challenge was a huge success and focussed on the importance of us all getting up and getting moving. Although that part of the TCA Challenge is over, many of the delegates are continuing with mini-competitions of their own (www.tcachallenge.com -members tab).
So isn’t it time to get off our butts… get up…get moving and do something about the sitting disease that has had such a dramatic impact on our industry? Education is definitely the key, but taking action is all of our responsibility.
Here’s How You Can Take Immediate Action….
Truck News and Healthy Trucker will be holding a similar event that everyone in the Trucking industry can become involved in. The goal will be for the industry to collectively walk around the world (25,000 Miles) in the month of July. http://tinyurl.com/orddkt4
Fleets and Allied Trades are invited to enter their team (2 to 10 individuals) into the Healthy Fleet Challenge. We invite each team to upload their company logo and photos of team members to the leader board at www.healthyfleet.com. It`s not meant to be a competition but I`m sure there will be some side bets going on as the leader board will show the progress of each company.
To participate in this event, each team will make a $1,000 donation which goes to Make a Wish Canada and Heart and Stoke (to help fund more research in trucking). Sign up now, to be part of the solution!
About the Author
Glenn Caldwell is the Vice-President of Sales for NAL Insurance Inc. of London ON. For over 25 years, Glenn has worked closely with many fleets across the country to ensure their Owner/Operators have the protection they need to Keep Rollin’.
You can reach him (800) 265 1657-3350