My uncle is a truck driver. He sat behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler since he was a teenager, hauling loads of hay to and from my grandpa’s farm. While a giant stash of audio books keeps his mind stimulated, his body is forced to sit still for hours at a time. And when he pulls in to a rest stop to turn in for the night, he’s left with less-than-healthy food options like greasy burgers, Ho Hos, and maple syrup-soaked pancakes.
Though my uncle falls within a healthy weight range, he may be an exception to the rule. The trucker stereotype usually evokes a round-bellied, out of shape, chain-smoker. Unfortunately, the typecast has some truth to it thanks to long sedentary days often fueled by poor nutrition. According to the National Institute of Health, more than half of all truck drivers are obese while the national rate stands at about 26 percent. And compared to the general population, diabetes rates are nearly double. Plus, two-thirds of long-haul truck drivers smoke cigarettes on those long drives Smoking Behavior in Trucking Industry Workers. Jain, N.B., Hart, J.E., Smith, T.J., et al. Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 2006 December;49(12): 1013-1020.. But what if these traveling men and women had a means of exercising on the road? With its sights on changing drivers’ fitness, trucking company Freightliner has created a new resistance band training system that can be used right in the truck’s cab.
Though you may not be a truck driver yourself, or know any for that matter, this system shows that it's possible to make small health and fitness changes even in a typically unhealthy environment.
What’s the Deal?
Developed in collaboration with Rolling Strong (a leader in driver wellness programs), the Freightliner In-Cab Training (FIT) system is designed to get long-haul truck drivers moving more than just their cargo. A series of elastic resistance bands connect to brackets installed into pre-existing mounting points, and can provide up to 150 pounds of resistance for full-body strength and conditioning workouts. FIT’s instructional videos and manual specifically outline exercises with a focus on rotator cuff flexibility and lower back strength, two especially problematic areas among truckers. Of course, for obvious safety reasons, the workout system is not intended for use while the truck is in motion.
FIT, which sells for $69.95, also comes equipped with accessories that allow the system to be used outside of the truck. Rolling Strong also has an app to use in conjunction with the FIT system. The app (compatible for iOS) provides health and wellness information including gym locations, wellness newsletters, and videos that discuss common ailments among drivers and how to alleviate them.
Is It Legit?
Yessiree, Bob. While the FIT system isn’t the be-all end-all to trucker fitness, it’s a step in the right direction for introducing more activity to a typically sedentary occupation. Sure, a driver can hop out of his or her truck and go for a walk. But when demands are high and time is tight, the bands can be a nice alternative.
Fact is: Truck drivers face crazy hours, few breaks, extreme time pressures, lack of movement, and few healthy food options. The resistance band fitness system might not revolutionize truckers’ lives, but it’s a small change that can have benefits some major benefits down the road.
What do you think of the in-cab fitness system? Is it silly or a step in the right direction for the trucking industry? Let us know in the comment section below or tweet the author @nicmdermott.
Photos: Daimler Trucks North America