As van operators, the health of our vehicle is always of primary concern – daily checks and regular services keep operators on the road and working at their peak. But how much attention do we pay to our own health, and those of drivers across our fleets?
Official figures show that men continue to die, on average, six years earlier than women, for physical reasons that are largely preventable. And the impact of mental health problems on both men and women are even more profound, with startling figures showing that people with severe mental problems die up to 20 years earlier than the general population – an equivalent or greater impact on life expectancy than heavy smoking.
Most operators will say that they have active, busy lives – but how much of their time is actually spent sitting down, in a van, driving from customer to customer, only grabbing an unhealthy snack “on the go”? Mark Cartwright, FTA’s Head of Vans has some tips that can help you and your drivers get into better shape without the need for a personal trainer (although they can also be beneficial!):
- Keeping physically active is proven to help reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and boosts self-esteem, helps concentration and sleeping. Try to do at least two hours of moderate intensity activity a week – take a half hour walk over lunchtime, or after work, to destress, as well as improving your circulation and general well-being.
- It is always easy to grab a snack on the go – but make sure it isn’t full of hidden salt and sugar. Try to get into the habit of making lunch for yourself before you leave the house, and instead of picking up a bar of chocolate for an energy hit mid-afternoon, try a banana, which releases sugars into the bloodstream steadily after eating.
- Caffeine is something that many of us rely on to keep alert during the day – but drink too much of it and it creates a vicious circle which can ruin your sleep patterns and make you increasingly reliant on it during the day. Try not to drink coffee from mid-afternoon onwards, and replace caffeinated energy drinks with squash or water to ensure you get a good night’s sleep: your body will thank you.
- One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives, and many will keep the problem hidden for fear of being stigmatised. Encourage your team to talk about their issues, with colleagues or management, and continue to support them as they seek help from professionals. Sometimes the offer of help is all the safety net that they will require.
This year’s Van Excellence Operational Briefings, taking place in April in Glasgow, Oxford and Derby, will focus on driver wellbeing and the effect that it can have on safety, compliance and performance. Find out more: Van Excellence Operational Briefings and book your place at one of the events.