On Safety

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Trucker dives in to getting fit

April 9, 2015
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Truck driving can be an unhealthy occupation, but a former NCAA athlete is offering hope for the profession.

Earlier this year, FOX Sports Live published a short video (embedded below) on the story of Missouri-based truck driver Siphiwe Baleka.

Baleka was a top-rated NCAA swimmer at Yale University with dreams of Olympic gold. When he fell short of that dream, Baleka spent years bouncing around the world before settling in to a full-time job as a truck driver.

Quickly, he learned that changing gears from swimmer to trucker presents risks – he started gaining weight.

Nearly 7 in 10 long-haul truck drivers are obese – more than twice that of the national average for working adults, according to NIOSH. With obesity comes an increased chance of developing health ailments such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer or stroke.

Faced with this reality, Baleka created a plan. He would spend about 15 minutes working out at truck stops in between driving trips. It worked – Baleka lost weight, got back in shape and returned to his old sport.

But he wasn’t satisfied with just helping himself. Soon, Baleka began training other truck drivers, offering them tips on how to stay in shape on the road. As the video notes, due to the program, Baleka’s fleet has cut its obesity rate 20 percent from the national average.

“I want to revolutionize this industry,” he says in the video. “I want to make the unhealthiest occupation in America one of the healthiest.”

Are you a truck driver who exercises while on the road, or does your employer offer any sort of fitness program? Share your story in the comments below.

The opinions expressed in "On Safety" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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