Weight gain is a huge risk for the unorganized person with a travel job. Because of the inconveniences built into this sort of work, good exercise and eating habits are often unscheduled because they appear “inconvenient” to some.
If you travel often for your job, pay attention to this study:
According to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, road warriors who travel for business two weeks or more a month have higher body mass index, higher rates of obesity and poorer self-rated health than those who travel less often.
The study, conducted by Andrew G. Rundle, DrPH and Catherine A. Richards, MPH, drew data from medical records of more than 13,000 employees in a corporate wellness program provided by EHE International. Nearly 80 percent of employees traveled at least one night a month and 1 percent traveled more than 20 nights a month. Findings are online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
"Consistently we found that health outcomes were worse for those not traveling and those traveling the most," said Richards, doctoral candidate in the Mailman School Department of Epidemiology and first author. "And while the differences in clinical values for diastolic blood pressure and HDL were small, the results for self rated health are of concern because this simple measure is a very robust predictor of mortality. Similarly, the associations between business travel and obesity are noteworthy because of the many negative health consequences of this condition."
The authors noted that 81 percent of business travel is done in personal automobiles, which is associated with long hours of sitting and a high probability of poor food choices.
While research to date has associated business travel with infectious disease health risks, this is the one of the first studies to report the effects of business travel on health risks associated with cardiovascular disease.
So, weary traveler, here are some tips to keep you healthy:
1. Avoid weight gain by packing more than just your clothes. Some of you travel as much as 200 days a year. You have to get your eating under control or your weight will quickly get out of control. If you are a frequent flyer or driver, you know the food traps found in airport or roadside restaurants. The food choices are usually high-calorie, high-carb and high-fat.
"You never know when there will be long delays when you're traveling -- especially around the holidays -- so if you plan ahead, you won't be stuck going to the first fast-food place you find," said Samantha Heller, MS, RD, senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center.
Haphazard eating will skyrocket your calories and pack pounds on your body. The simple solution is to plan and pack nutritious foods like sandwiches with lean meats, green salads, unsalted nuts, fruits/vegetables, yogurt, yogurt smoothies, popcorn, etc. And drink plenty of water or unsweetened tea instead of high-calorie drinks like designer coffees and sodas.
2. Don’t skip your exercise. You can cover eating mistakes with an intense workout. Use the hotel gym, do a bodyweight workout in your room or run outside. Get a stability ball, medicine ball and dumbbells to do exercises anywhere, anytime. Keep your fat-burning enzymes active!
3. Walk at least 30-40 minutes every day. Walking during work breaks is a good time to stroll.
4. Comply with your meal plan at least 90 percent of the time. So, you don’t have to be perfect with your eating to control your weight. If you will be eating at restaurants, download the menus for planning.
5. Try to get enough sleep, which is 7-8 hours a night for most people. This will keep your metabolism working properly. Also, its easy to eat when you should be sleeping.
Always include fitness and health in your travel plans.
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Samantha Heller, MS, RD, senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center.
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