How does someone’s job make them unhealthy? Does it force them to sit for long times? Do they have to go without easy access to a bathroom? Does it make it hard for them to exercise or get good quality sleep? What are the unhealthiest professions among my patients?
Now, I haven’t made a study of this, haven’t gone to the primary literature to find research articles or anything. And some professions, like personal trainers, physical therapists, dietitians and religious clergy seem to be very healthy in general.
But there are definitely professions that seem to have the “perfect storm” of unhealthy lifestyles.
Bus drivers (whether school or city or long-distance coaches) have many lifestyle challenges that impact their health. In my experience school bus drivers have the most problems, usually because they don’t recognize how much their work is impacting their health.
If I were locked into a chair for 2-3 hours at a time and unable to access a bathroom, I would avoid drinking fluids for those hours. If I had no access to a refrigerator to keep fresh foods cold, I might feel I had to eat takeout or fast food for lunch every day.
Add to these challenges the enforced inactivity and high level of stress of being responsible for bus-loads of children and you’ve got a pretty toxic mess in many respects.
Short-haul truck drivers have many of the same challenges as bus drivers do. Long-distance drivers, ironically, often have less problems because they KNOW they are behaving in ways that are unhealthy. Awareness is growing among trucking companies that prolonged sitting increases health risk, and driving hours restrictions are helping.
However, long-haul and short-distance truck drivers both have issues with prolonged sitting, unhealthy food choices and lack of exercise. It is just very hard for people in these professions to make healthy choices over the long run.
Night Shift Worker
If you work at night, you are fighting an uphill battle to stay healthy. I work in a 24-7-365 profession myself, so I know what I’m talking about. There are professions that MUST have night shift workers but working nights is incredibly hard on the body.
We are a daytime species. Our brains are hard-wired to sleep in the cool, quiet dark and to be awake in the bright, warm, noisy day. Even our livers know we should not eat at night.
Even for those of us who work in the daytime, have access to refrigerators and bathrooms and aren’t forced to sit for long periods, staying healthy is a challenge. Add work constraints and things can get really tough.
If you have a work environment that makes it difficult to practice good habits, please take stock and change what you can. Meal prepping and taking meals to work, even if you have to take a small cooler (click here to see my new lunch bag!), is worth the time and effort and saves money. Tracking your steps with a pedometer will help you be mindful of your activity level.
Drinking plenty of water helps keep your energy up. Making a point to get out in the fresh air and nature, practicing your faith, and spending time with loved ones helps to mitigate the effects of a job that is physically and mentally stressful.
YOU are important! Sacrificing your health in pursuit of money will only work for so long – eventually that will backfire. Take care of YOU, you’re the only one who can!
QUESTION: What other professions do you feel make it difficult to stay healthy? Do you have any ideas about how to make healthy choices in spite of your job?