Business Travel Takes A Physical and Mental Toll

Author: Michelle Russell       

According to a recent Op-Ed piece in Business Travel News by Andrew Rundle, DrPH, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, the physical and mental toll business travel takes on individuals depends significantly upon the number of days they spend away from home each month. Rundle and his team identified extensive business travelers as those who spend 14 or more nights on the road per month.

The health issues that appear “in concentrated amounts” among extensive business travelers include:

  • obesity
  • poor self-rated health
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • smoking
  • lack of physical activity
  • alcohol dependence
  • sleep issues

Rundle sees healthy business travel as a shared responsibility between the employee and the employer. He advises employers to educate their employees that “business travel predisposes them to making decisions that, when repeated over the long run, can negatively affect their health.” In particular, he recommends that employers provide education programs about healthy meal choices at restaurants, that they reimburse travelers for subscriptions for mobile apps that track diet and those that provide workout routines for settings in limited spaces, like hotel rooms.

In addition, he thinks organizations should include stress-management tools in their health and wellness programs — including low-cost and relatively short training in mindfulness-based stress reduction. This has been shown, Rundle said, to be useful in treating anxiety and depression — and improving sleep and eating habits.

Read the full Business Travel News story at convn.org/research-biz-travel.