Frequent business trips are unhealthy: Study

PHOTO: Pixabay

According to Inc. magazine, a study conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the City University of New York discovered that people who travel for business more than three weeks per month are more likely to become obese, compared to those who travel just one to six nights per month.

Business trip destinations often offer very few choices of food, while the traveler’s sleep is often interrupted and time for exercise is more difficult to find. Eventually, the weight gain will likely lead to higher blood pressure and lower high-density lipoprotein, which is the good cholesterol.

Meanwhile, mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and alcohol dependence may also result from too frequent business trips.

Andrew Rundle, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health who is a co-author in the study, wrote that the physical and mental conditions among extensive business travelers may harm their own health and the health of the organizations they work for.

The health issues can create costs for employers through medical claims, lower productivity, poor performance and short-term disabilities.

Furthermore, the study has offered several solutions for employees to travel in healthier ways.

"At the individual level, employees who travel extensively need to take responsibility for the decisions they make around diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, and sleep," Rundle said.

He went on to say that employees would likely need support in the form of education, training and a corporate culture that emphasized healthy business travel.

Employers and employees can begin by only going on important business trips and skipping those that are not as urgent. During their trips, employees could choose accommodations that offer exercising facilities and healthier food options. Employers, meanwhile, could also train their workers in stress management and provide them with gym memberships.

"Business travel can surely be educational and even fun, not to mention necessary for many people. But the wear and tear resulting from constant trips may not be altogether worth it," Rundle said.