News Stories

Business Travel is Bad for You

Even if you're lucky enough to HAVE a job, you just can't win! Being in the office makes you fat and it turns out that people who travel extensively for business have increased rates of poor health and health risk factors, including obesity and high blood pressure. Maybe you should send your avatar to the conference instead?

Researchers compared health risks for employees at different levels of business travel, using data on more than 13,000 employees. Close to 80% of the employees traveled at least one night per month. Nearly one percent were "extensive travelers"--on the road more than 20 nights per month. But they found that employees who did not travel at all were actually a less-healthy group. Compared to light travelers (one to six nights per month), nontravelers were about 60% more likely to rate their health as fair to poor.

This may be because employees who have health problems being less likely to travel. Otherwise, rates of less-than-good health increased along with nights of travel. Extensive travelers were 260% more likely to rate their health as fair to poor, compared to light travelers. Obesity was 33% more likely for nontravelers (because travelers want to look good when in a new place?) and obesity was 92% percent more likely for extensive travelers. The same two groups were also more likely to have high blood pressure and unfavorable cholesterol levels: It's clear that being a "light traveler" is the goal to aim for.

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 travelers--for example, poor sleep, fattening foods (too many peanuts on the airplane?), and long periods of inactivity. Meanwhile, some steps that companies can take to help employees stay healthy while they're on the road are selecting hotels with gym facilities, or tying meal reimbursements to healthier food choices.

And that rolling bag that most business travelers use so they can stow their luggage in an overhead bin and not have to wait for it to be taken off the plane? It's costing airports a fortune, because people are no longer renting luggage carts! In the July 1st edition of the Los Angeles Times, Hugo Martin reports that At Los Angeles International Airport, cart rentals once provided at least $2.75 million in annual revenue. Now, the airport is losing nearly $1 million a year under a deal that obligates it to provide free carts to foreign travelers.

Here's ONE thing that will help the business traveler: If you use a cell phone, one of your major problems is how to charge it (and leaving your charging cord behind you in a hotel room). A new invention means that you can do this by just walking outside (to a nearby park if you're visiting a city) and stick your phone in the dirt. On the Crazy Engineers website, Kaustubh Katdare reports that researcher Aviva Presser Aiden has invented the Microbial Fuel Based Charger. While we Westerners may find it handy, he created it for use in Third World countries, where there is often electricity for only a few hours a day. Her goal is to bring the cost of her microbial charger down to a dollar and improve it so that a cell phone can be completely charged within 24 hours.

If your office and business travel has made YOU fat, we have the solution for you: Anne Strieber's famous diet book "What I Learned From the Fat Years." Thousands of people have used it to lose weight and believe it or not, YOU CAN TOO!



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