Although business travel is often equated with long airline flights, relatively short business trips in personal cars are much more common
People who travel frequently for business have increased health risks
A study has found that people who travel frequently for business increase the rates of poor health and health risk factors, including obesity and high blood pressure.
Catherine A. Richards, MPH, and Andrew G. Rundle, DrPH, of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University compared health risks for employees at different levels of business travel.
They used data on more than 13,000 employees from a corporate wellness program. Close to 80 per cent of the employees travelled at least one night per month. Nearly one per cent were “extensive travellers“-on the road more than 20 nights per month.
Employees who did not travel at all were actually a less-healthy group. Compared to light travellers (one to six nights per month), non-travellers were about 60 per cent more likely to rate their health as fair to poor. This may reflect a “healthy worker effect”, with employees who have health problems being less likely to travel.
Otherwise, rates of less-than-good health increased along with nights of travel. Extensive travellers were 260 per cent more likely to rate their health as fair to poor, compared to light travellers.
Other health risk factors showed similar patterns: obesity was 33 per cent more likely non-travellers and 92 per cent more likely for extensive travellers. The same two groups were also more likely to have high blood pressure and unfavourable cholesterol levels.
Although business travel is often equated with long airline flights, relatively short business trips in personal cars are much more common. Several factors could contribute to health risks in frequent business travellers-for example, poor sleep, fattening foods, and long periods of inactivity.
The study has been published in the April Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.