The typical profile of the business traveler has changed drastically over the years. Today, 47 percent of women who travel, travel for business; millennials are on the road for work more than their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts; companies can’t always afford high-end hotels like they once did; and according to a recent article in The New York Times, frequent business travelers aren’t always the healthiest bunch, either.
Doctors at both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the International Society of Travel Medicine say that when planes and trains are a consistent part of the gig, people tend to report health woes of all kinds, from insomnia to weight gain.
According to a 2011 study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, cited by the Times, business travelers who logged more than 20 travel days a month had higher body mass indexes (a measure of body fat using height and weight), higher levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, higher blood pressure, and were 260 percent more likely to rate their own health as “fair to poor” than employees who hit the road between one and six days a month. The problems likely boil down to jet lag, a lack of healthy food options, no time to exercise, the stress of being away from home, and increased drinking.
Yet while doctors agree that just how much a busy travel schedule impacts health is an under-studied field, there are plenty of ways to tackle the issue while you’re on the road. Picking hotels with tech-y amenities like one single (and free) Wi-Fi network for seamless log-ons (the Four Seasons) can help ease the stress of constant travel, for example. As can eating certain foods to avoid jet lag (read: no bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches), moving when you can, and zen-ing out on those (many) flights—yes, it is possible to meditate on a plane.