Traveling for work isn’t exactly a new concept. For years companies have relied on dedicated employees to don their best “business casual” flying attire and rack up some frequent flyer miles as they hop all over the world conducting business for their respective companies. Be warned, though, recent studies have shown that individuals who travel frequently for work—say, three weeks or more per month—are at a substantially higher risk for a laundry list of health ailments.
Just which health ailments, you ask?
For starters, the “road warriors” are twice as likely to be obese as those workers who travel a week or less for business according to a study conducted by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health along with the City University of New York.
The study also shows that frequent business travelers are more likely to have higher blood pressure and poorer cholesterol than those who travel less frequently.
The negative effects don’t stop there.
Travelers who spend half the month or more away from home tend to have more trouble sleeping, higher levels of anxiety, depression and just a general feeling of unhealthiness. Regular business travelers also have a higher level of alcohol dependence, smoking and little to no exercise when compared to businesspeople who travel less frequently.
The study conducted health assessments of 18,000 employees and the results were published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The study showed that of all the employees who were part of the project, only about 12 percent traveled two weeks or more for business each month. But even with such a small sampling, the health effects were pretty dramatic. The results clearly show that frequent business travelers and the companies they work for have some health hurdles to overcome.
The head researchers for the project have some advice for these frequent business travelers. First off, the employees need to take responsibility for their individual health. Essentially, they just need to make smart decisions regarding their diet, alcohol consumption and exercise regimen. At the company level, corporations need to take a more active role in educating their employees on the health issues that come with frequent travel and support their people in minimizing the hazards. This could be as easy as ensuring their employees are booked in hotels with gyms and/or providing gym memberships for the team members to organizations with national chains and multi-city locations.