Money & Business

Healthy By Example: How Trucking Execs Are Promoting Well-Being

By / Oct 9, 2014 Winners of the Healthy Trucker Challenge have a chance to win Fitbit devices. (Fitbit press photo)

At its annual meeting this week, the American Trucking Association is keeping track of several industry executives—their steps, that is—as part of a Healthy Trucker Challenge, aimed at promoting healthy lifestyle habits in trucking.

Spending long hours on the road, truckers often get a bad rap for their health habits.

A recent study of long-haul truck drivers, for example, found that they are twice as likely to be obese compared to the rest of the U.S. adult working population, and 88 percent of drivers reported at least one risk factor—such as high blood pressure, smoking, or obesity—for chronic illness.

But some industry executives are hoping to encourage truckers to adopt healthy lifestyle habits at this week’s American Trucking Association Management Conference and Exhibition (ATA MC&E) via a Healthy Trucker Challenge.

Pitting a group of trucking executives against a team of professional truck-driving members from America’s Road Team, the challenge calculates the total number of steps taken by each team throughout the duration of the conference, with winners receiving bragging rights and Fitbit activity tracking devices.

“Staying fit and active, even while on the road, is very important,” Eddie Weeks, one of the challenge participants and a captain of America’s Road Team, said in a statement. “Over the next couple days, we’re going to show just how healthy truckers can be.”

Attendees can also participate in the challenge, and they can keep track of their own and the teams’ progress via the Healthy Trucker Challenge website and daily update postings in the ATA MC&E exhibit hall.

The challenge is a good way to start a conversation around healthy lifestyle habits and to inspire attendees to incorporate these habits into their lives beyond the confines of the conference, said Elisabeth Barna, ATA senior vice president, communications and public affairs. “We hope that everybody gets involved and takes it back to their own organizations.”

ATA isn’t the only organization using the lead-by-example tactic. This summer the American Heart Association announced a CEO Roundtable made up of 22 CEOs from some of the country’s largest organizations who are themselves working to inspire employees to make healthy choices.

Part of the catalyst for the roundtable was an online survey of about 2,000 employees that found those in senior leadership positions had a significant effect on influencing employees to engage with and reap the benefits of workplace health programs.

The study found, for example, that employees encouraged by senior leaders to participate in a workplace health program are significantly more likely to report positive health benefits such as lower blood pressure, healthier eating habits, and weight loss. More than half of the survey respondents also reported that it was important to see a CEO taking care of his or her own health.

“We’re starting a movement to transform the culture of the workplace to meaningfully engage employees to take simple steps that can dramatically reduce their risk of heart-related death and illness,” AHA CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement. “Together with some of the country’s most influential CEOs, we are working to tackle this issue head-on, share best practices, and identify cutting-edge, new programs to help get America heart-healthy.”

Have you tried encouraging members or employees to adopt healthier lifestyle habits? If so, how? Let us know in the comments.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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