If you’re on the road too much, you might find yourself gaining weight, dealing with higher blood pressure, or fighting off illnesses, according to health experts. However, the depth of the problem isn’t clear due to a relative lack of research.
Does being a road warrior mean you’ll be fighting a lot with your scale? Or, perhaps, fighting a cold on your way to the next meeting?
It turns out that health problems are a fact of life when it comes to work-related travel, already something that people have a tendency to either love or hate.
That said, the issue is one that has seen little in the way of research. According to a recent New York Times piece, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) report seeing health-related issues from high levels of travel, but lack much in the way of hard findings to understand how serious the problem is.
“Right now, it’s hard to know the impact because not enough research has been done,” incoming ISTM President Lin Chin told the newspaper. “But certainly it’s significant.”
One report on the matter that touched on the seriousness of the issue came from Columbia University in 2011. Researchers at the school’s Mailman School of Public Health analyzed the medical records of 13,000 people in a corporate wellness program and found that the ones who traveled most often (20 days or more monthly) had worse health than those who traveled more infrequently. The more aggressive road warriors tended to have higher body mass indexes, lower HDL cholesterol levels, and higher blood pressure rates. They were also two and a half times more likely to claim their health was fair to poor.
Dr. Andrew Rundle, who coauthored the report, recently completed a follow-up, which is currently being peer reviewed. According to Rundle, the new report is shockingly similar.
“What we’re seeing is kind of like a U-shaped curve,” he said in comments to the Times. “People who travel the most and people who don’t travel at all have the worst health.”
The findings tie into existing concerns about business travel, including issues of stress and a desire for work-life balance.