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Work-Life Balance

Frequent business travelers 92% more likely to be obese

When you travel for business, you get to see the wonders of the world on your boss’ dime. It may be fun, it may even boost your professional career, putting you on track for that promotion, but new research found that those frequent flier miles can come at a great personal cost to your health.

A new study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that travelers who are away from home 21 or more nights per month were more than twice as likely to obese, compared to business travelers who traveled one to six nights per month. The odds of being obese were 92% higher for those who traveled more frequently.

Frequent business travel ruins our health

It only takes two weeks of business travel to throw your body into upheaval and chaos.

Looking at the health surveys of over 18,000 employees, the researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and City University of New York found that business travel leads to poorer physical and mental health across the board. Frequent business travelers, or those who spent two weeks or more away from home each month, had more trouble sleeping at night.

Those long hours stuck sitting on flights, cars and meetings promoted bad habits. Frequent business travelers became more sedentary. They became less likely to exercise and more likely to become dependent on alcohol and smoking to cope. They became more likely to report clinical symptoms of anxiety and depression. When you are away from home, you are away from your routine that keeps you on track to make healthier choices. That hotel minibar may become more enticing.

Next time your boss tries to offer frequent travel as a perk, remember that this benefit can come at great cost to your health long after you have left the job.

“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,” the researchers concluded. “If you have employees who are often between cities, you owe it to them to provide the education, tools, and resources so they can  maintain healthy lifestyles while on the road.”

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