Wellness Programs help with Health Issues Caused by Frequent Traveling

by: Nichole Gunn June 28, 2011

Eating healthy while on the go or when traveling can be problematic and a new study conducted by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health demonstrates that this is particularly true for those who travel for their job. The results of the study reveal a noteworthy increase in health issues and obesity for those who regularly travel for business.

The International Business Times reports that an effective corporate health and wellness program can go a long way in curtailing this problem through traveling eating strategies and educational programs.

The study lead Dr. Andrew G. Rundle, along with Catherine A. Richards, his associate, studied over 13,000 workers’ medical records. They thoroughly scoured a range of data that included:

  • Business travel information
  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Demographics, including gender, race, and age
  • Self health ratings
  • Cholesterol monitoring
  • Body mass index

Predictably, travelers who only traveled from one to six nights a month had the best measured health results. But, interestingly, workers who didn’t travel at all followed the light travelers for their measured health results. Conclusions attribute this anomaly to existing health problems that prohibit those workers from traveling.

As would be expected, workers who spent two to four weeks on the road had increased obesity levels and increased body mass indexes. Those workers who frequently travel had a 260 percent higher risk of having fair to poor health and increased blood pressure.

The study noted that it didn’t matter what type of traveling was done, trains, cars, planes, “it essentially represents increased sedentary time and represents reduced overall time for physical activity. In addition, overnight stays in hotels may interrupt exercise schedules."

Factors attributed to the study’s results include eating more fast food while traveling and jet-lag, which both contribute to obesity.

Employers need to have a corporate wellness program in place that offers some form of social networking to help boost the worker’s realization of the benefits of taking their health into their own hands. This strategy is effective for those working remotely also. Allowing workers easy access to a centralized database where they can monitor their wellness program results will help motivate travelers to be aware of what they do and be accountable for ‘walking the health goal walk.’ This strategy may also foster a healthy competition among the staff.

Another recent survey from CareerBuilder revealed: 43 percent of the respondents cited gaining weight in their current job, while only 18 percent cited they lost weight. Frequent travel is not the only deterrent to a healthy lifestyle, the survey found that workers sitting down most of the day, regularly having lunch out, missing meals because of time constraints, and taking part in workplace festivities all contribute to obesity.


About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.