Health study targets sitting drivers

Improving the sedentary lifestyles of transport workers across South East Queensland is the focus of a new Griffith University study.
Set to be presented at the upcoming Gold Coast Health and Medical Research Conference (Dec 3-4), the study will target around 100 drivers from bus, tram and long haul truck companies and follows an earlier pilot study aiming to address concern around the incidence of cardiovascular risk factors and diabetes within this group.
“Our original study with men and women in this profession found that unfortunately, just over one third of the participants exhibited three or more of the factors that characterise metabolic syndrome,” says Dr Helen Naug from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland.

Risk of disease

Metabolic syndrome comprises a group of risk factors that increases an individual’s risk of developing heart disease and Type-2 diabetes.

“This time we’re going to offer a similar but improved intervention to the drivers, but we want to expand the study to a much larger group from a cross-section of transport companies.”

The study will take blood samples from the drivers and require them to complete a questionnaire at the beginning of the study regarding their general health, lifestyle and diet.

They will then be asked to attend four interactive workshops over a four-month period which will teach them specific strategies for change, regarding exercise and nutrition, within their unique workplace. Small manageable changes in lifestyle can make a large impact on reducing the risk of developing diabetes and other risk factors of metabolic syndrome.

“We know that even small things like getting up to walk around the bus depot at the end of a five- hour driving stint can have a marked effect on an individual’s blood glucose or lipid levels and help decrease their risk of developing metabolic syndrome in the long term,” says Dr Naug.

“It’s these little changes for transport workers that can all add up to make a big impact on the health and wellbeing of the drivers.”

Surfside Buslines is one of the main companies participating in the Griffith study.

“We are very pleased to be involved in this worthwhile research,” says Martin Hall, general manager.

“Unfortunately working as a bus driver can be a tough gig, in that there can be long stressful shifts which require them to sit down most of the time. Sometimes, drivers do continue to sit in their cabins during their breaks, but hopefully this is something that can be changed, with them being encouraged by the study, to get up and be a little more active.

“It’s all about shifting the mindset and showing that small changes can have significant impact on the health of our drivers.”

The study is due to launch in January 2016.
Interested participants can contact: [email protected] or tel: (07) 5552 9158

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