Business Travel Takes a Physical and Mental Toll — Here’s How to Stay Healthy

An epidemiologist’s statistics about the physical and mental consequences of extensive business travel are worrisome. But he says there are some steps travelers — and the organizations that employ them — can take to stay healthy.

 The physical and mental toll business travel takes on individuals depends significantly upon the number of days they spend away from home each month, according to Dr. Andrew Rundle, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, writing in Business Travel News. Rundle and his team identified extensive business travelers as those who spend 14 or more nights on the road per month.

In Convene’s recent business travel survey, 19 percent of survey respondents said their job requires they travel between 31 and 50 percent of the time, and 7 percent said they traveled more than 50 percent of the time. Which, according to Rundle’s research, means —  especially for those traveling 50 percent of the time or more — that their risk for health issues is elevated.

The health issues that appear “in concentrated amounts” among extensive business travelers — those that travel 14 or more nights on the road a month — include: obesity;  poor self-rated health; depression; anxiety; smoking: lack of physical activity: alcohol dependence; and sleep issues.

Rundle considers 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.             

You can read the full Business Travel News story at

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.