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By Anja van den Berg

Slowly but surely Covid-19 travelling restrictions are starting to be relaxed, and those of us who travel for work are firing up our engines again.

Most of us are relieved that we’re getting back to business, but travelling for work has its perils.

An associate professor of epidemiology, Andrew Rundle, investigated the link between business travel and chronic disease conditions. He found a strong correlation between the frequency of business travel and a wide range of physical and behavioural health risks.

Compared to those who spent one to six nights a month away from home for business travel, those who spent 14 or more nights away from home per month had significantly higher body mass index scores.

The odds of being obese were 92% higher for those who travelled 21 or more nights per month compared to those who travelled only one to six nights per month. The ultra-travelling group also had higher diastolic blood pressure and lower high-density lipoprotein (the good cholesterol).

In addition, a 2017 Google consumer survey, with more than a thousand respondents, reported the following statistics on regular business travellers:

  • 16% say they increase their alcohol consumption on business trips (compared to when they are home).
  • 44% say they are much more likely to eat unhealthy food while travelling than taking meals at home or in an office setup.
  • 54% say they are less likely to exercise on a work trip than when they’re not travelling.

Luckily, travellers have more control over their health than they may think.

  1. Eating well can be easy

A little thought can go a long way towards eating well while you travel. Here are a few tips:

  • Dehydration can cause sensations that mimic hunger. Sip on water throughout the day. Aim to drink 1,5–2 litres.
  • Eat protein with every meal. Protein helps you to stay full and facilitates sustained mental capacity.
  • Be careful with what’s in your coffee. A skinny cappuccino without sugar is a good choice as it contains some pick-me-up caffeine and protein. A caramel coffee twist may sound delicious, but it can also pack a significant caloric punch.
  • Always have healthy snacks at hand to prevent a bout of hunger chasing you to the vending machine.
  • Book a hotel room that offers a kitchenette. That way, you can pop into the grocery store and buy a few easy ingredients to whip up a nutritious meal. Alternatively, request that the hotel put a small fridge in your room to keep healthy food at hand.
  • Drink a large glass of water between every alcoholic drink and stick to one or two drinks. Who wants to take on an important meeting with a throbbing head the next day?
  1. Set yourself up for exercise success

Thirty minutes every day is all you need to stay healthy. Doing more is a bonus. Here’s how:

  • Hotel gyms tend to be spartan and a bit dull. If you don’t prefer the stationary bike or treadmill, purchase some travel-friendly exercise equipment such as resistance bands, a jump rope, or a yoga mat. Even simple exercises, such as crunches, squats, and lunges, can keep your metabolism going and help build energy.
  • Use technology. Have fitness apps at the ready. There are various apps (and YouTube channels) that offer on-demand classes led by experienced instructors. Crank up some music, and you’re good to start your workout in your hotel room.
  • If time pressure simply doesn’t allow you to exercise, find a safe spot and go for a walk during the day. Excuse yourself for 30 minutes during lunch, slip on your trainers and enjoy the outside environment.

Remember that you have a lot of control, says Joey Daoud, CEO and head coach of New Territory Fitness. “No one can make you do anything. Dinners and after-parties can amp up the social pressure of feeling the need to overindulge or drink. You might feel pressured into not making the best decision in the moment. It’s okay to prioritise your physical and mental health above social expectations.”

 

Sources

Learn How To Become: https://www.learnhowtobecome.org/career-resource-center/healthy-business-travel/

Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielreed/2017/12/07/business-travel-wearing-you-down-physically-or-emotionally-eat-better-drink-less-exercise-more/?sh=4a242cd248bd

Passport Health: https://www.passporthealthusa.com/employer-solutions/blog/how-to-stay-healthy-while-traveling-for-business/

Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/14-ways-to-stay-healthy-if-youre-always-on-the-road-2019-4?IR=T#do-on-the-road-ab-exercises-to-fight-constipation-2

Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2018/05/just-how-bad-is-business-travel-for-your-health-heres-the-data

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