The Truckload Carriers Association is adding a new element to National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, an event that's been held annually since 1998: wellness.
Jeff Barker is one truck driver who's already on the fitness bandwagon.
Jeff Barker is one truck driver who's already on the fitness bandwagon.

TCA Chairman Robert Low, the president and founder of Prime Inc. in Springfield, Mo., is deeply concerned about the health problems that a sedentary lifestyle can create. At Low's request, the former "NTDAW" will now be known as National Truck Driver Appreciation & Wellness Week, or NTDAWW. For 2012, it will be held Sept. 16-22.

"During NTDAWW, companies can continue hosting driver appreciation events and providing giveaways like they've done in the past," said Low, "but we're asking that they mix in some type of health component this year. How about giving away cookbooks with low-fat recipes for people 'on the go'? Perhaps you could bring in a speaker to discuss stress reduction techniques. At your driver appreciation picnic, why not trade that heavy potato salad for fruit or a pasta salad with light vinaigrette? Anything that offers people healthier ideas or alternatives is going to be a step in a positive direction."

Twelve TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers are hosting wellness fairs, including free health assessments, gym tours, and 1- to 3-mile walks with either fellow truckers or celebrities such as John Ratzenberger and Dave Nemo. The health fairs start at 3 p.m. and the walks start at 7 p.m.

On Sept. 20, TCA is promoting stop-smoking efforts with "Ditch the Pack" day.

"TCA is asking that everyone in our industry-from dispatchers to drivers to safety directors to executives-stop smoking for one day. Our goals are to raise awareness of the benefits of quitting and to show support for those starting or continuing their smoke-free journey."