June 04, 2018

Just how bad is business travel for your health? Here’s the data.


Harvard Business Review investigated the link between business travel and chronic disease conditions and found a strong correlation between the frequency of business travel and a wide range of physical and behavioral 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 and were significantly more likely to report the following: poor self-rated health; clinical symptoms of anxiety, depression and alcohol dependence; no physical activity or exercise; smoking; and trouble sleeping. The odds of being obese were 92% higher for those who traveled 21 or more nights per month compared to those who traveled only one to six nights per month, and this ultra-traveling group also had higher diastolic blood pressure and lower high density lipoprotein (the good cholesterol).

Although only about 12% of employees in the dataset traveled for business 14 or more nights per month, the clustering of all these health conditions among extensive business travelers is worrying, both for their own health and the health of the organizations they work for. Physical, behavioral and mental health issues such as obesity, hypertension, smoking, depression, anxiety, poor sleep, and alcohol dependence can create costs for employers through higher medical claims, reduced employee productivity and performance, absenteeism, presenteeism, and short-term disability. The effects of these issues have the potential to strain or sever relationships with clients and suppliers.

Get the full story at Harvard Business Review