By Jena Williams

This week we celebrate Valentine’s Day. This month we pay special attention to heart health. Is it a coincidence that there is an overlap here? I don’t think so. Stick with me and I’ll explain why.

We’ll begin with Valentine’s Day, which, for those of you who need to know, is on the 14th. Ah, Valentine’s Day, although one of the sweetest  days of the year, it is also a day high in stress, devised many years ago presumably in an attempt by the card, candy, jewelry and floral industries to make those not in a relationship feel bad and those in one incredibly broke. Other theories include a lovesick jailbird, secret weddings and fertility rituals (you can read about those here: http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day.)

Next we’ll consider heart health since February is American Heart Month. Few would disagree that the heart (even a broken one) is a very necessary organ for human survival, so it seems reasonable to consider how best to care for it.  For truck drivers, staying healthy to be safe on the road is vital to the job, so taking care of your heart is actually an important part of your job as well.

This can be tricky when healthy foods are difficult to find on the road and sometimes a challenge to prepare, store and cook in a truck. Some helpful hints here: http://www.ehow.com/how_4906921_eat-healthy-truck-driver.html

There is a good reason to try though, because research shows that the average male truck driver lives 15 years less than the average American male.  Doesn’t seem quite fair or right for those who bring everything the rest of us need. So what can we do as an industry to turn this tide?

Well, we haven’t given up.  April 30-May 2, is the 5th Annual Healthy Trucking Summit of 2013 presented by the Healthy Trucking Association of America. Trucking industry representatives throughout the nation will meet to discuss the needs and concerns of the industry to improve the well-being of their most vital investment – their drivers.

Here’s a tidbit from the 2013 announcement:

Since its inception in 2009, the HTAA HEALTHY TRUCKING SUMMIT has become the undisputed premiere health and wellness event of the trucking industry… the HEALTHY TRUCKING SUMMIT [is] the most successful event of its kind and the trucking industry’s most important annual event for improving the health of our nation’s drivers.

There is still time to register for the event and to get involved in the process of improving the health of the entire trucking industry.

And now back to hearts and chocolate and why truckers should be interested.

At first I was confused as to why as a nation we chose in 1963 to recognize American Heart Month during February with the great deluge of chocolate that comes with that. But apparently someone must have suspected then what has been recently proven. Chocolate is good for your heart!!!! Now keep it in perspective, not all items labeled as “chocolate” truly fit the bill, but as a true chocolate connoisseur would agree, the heart healthy components are in the only chocolate worth human consumption. (Yes, I’m referring to the dark kind!)

Don’t try to argue it any other way! I’ve got this battle down. Dark chocolate = good for you. All other yucky chocolates = not so good for you. Therefore, dark = good. All other = bad. Thus dark chocolate is the only good chocolate. Whew!

Back to our story.

So really, it isn’t a surprise to me that Valentine’s Day, the holiday of the heart and the chocolate connoisseur would be celebrated during American Heart Month. I’m not a physician but I say, February 14th is the day to indulge in some yummy dark chocolate. If your sweetheart doesn’t supply it, just buy your own. 😉 Because, truck drivers, we appreciate you!

NOTE: Commentary on the palatable-ness of various forms of chocolate are the personal views of the author and do not necessary reflect the official views of TIRES. (Even if they should.)

How a trucking company changed to a healthier culture: http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2010/12/06/trucking-to-be-heart-healthy-in-new-ulm/

CDC’s February is Heart Awareness Month: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HeartMonth/

Heart healthy properties of chocolate: http://www.allchocolate.com/health/basics/ (Dreams do come true!)

Heart Healthy Trucking Blog: http://gototruckdrivingschool.blogspot.com/2012/02/heart-healthy-trucking.html

HTAA Healthy Trucking Summit: http://healthytruckingsummit2013.com/