How To Stay Healthy While Travelling For Work

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When employees are on the road for work, their schedule and healthy habits can quickly be relinquished for the sake of convenience. It’s much easier to drop a normal regimen in favour of what’s easy. Travelling, whether driving or flying, can be stressful. So, when they arrive at your destination, finding a healthy meal and getting some exercise aren’t top priorities. They likely want something quick, healthy or not, and to get settled and ready to work right away. But, travellers shouldn’t forsake all their good habits, even though they may be tempted to do so.

As an employer, you should assist your workers that travel for the benefit of the company. These employees are sacrificing time with their family to support the company. You should help them make better decisions when it comes to what they eat and what they do as a traveller.

Work Travel Can Be a Health Risk

Regular work travellers have likely already seen the impact of frequent travel. One Columbia University study looked at 13,000 individuals in an employee wellness plan with 80 per cent travelling at least one night a month. The research revealed, those with the highest number of nights travelling were more at risk for being unhealthy, including being obese and having high blood pressure.

Plenty of research has been done on the complications to health that work travel causes. One study revealed that 70 per cent of travellers report problems including stress, sleeplessness, mood swings and gastrointestinal problems. All of these factors cause lower work performance, too. So, preparing your employees for the side effects of travel is important.

Travelling May Lead to Unhealthy Lifestyles

In a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a report was published drawing connections between work travel and health. The research revealed that those that travel the most are more likely to smoke, have trouble sleeping, be sedentary and depend more on alcohol.

Not keeping up with regular daily life could result in feeling even more tired and sluggish. Travellers often gain weight during their travel if they don’t stick to better habits. It’s clear from the data that regular work travellers need help managing their health while on the road.

But there are simple solutions to the quest of staying healthy while travelling for work. These rules are not hard to follow—it’s just a matter of sticking to them. Share these tips with your employees who travel as best practices.

Stay Hydrated

Keep a bottle of water with you and drink plenty of it. If you are flying to your destination, being in a confined, pressurised space will dry you out. Your skin may even feel dryer once you emerge from the plane. Getting plenty of water in your system helps.

You should also drink more if the temperatures are high. Remaining hydrated in the heat is necessary to avoid a heat-related injury.

Water can also help flush out any unhealthy toxins. These could be in food or the environment itself. Your body has to acclimate to a new area; drinking plenty of water will help.

Walk Whenever You Can

Whether it’s at the airport or around your destination, use your legs to get where you need to go. If your hotel is only a few blocks from where your event or meeting is, then get in a little walking. Your legs could probably use a stretch after a flight or drive.

Walking is one of the easiest ways to stay active. If where you’re headed is within a 15-minute walk, then get moving. Walking is also a great way to take in an area’s sights and landscapes. If you have time to enjoy the area for a few hours, consider walking as your mode of transportation.

Walking gets your heart rate up but you won’t sweat profusely or be winded; neither of which is a good look for stepping into a client meeting or event.

For all this walking, you’ll need some comfortable shoes. Choose something with good arch support that won’t cause blisters. If need be, take other shoes with you and change once you arrive. The last thing you want is for your feet to get banged up.

Stick with Your Exercise Routine

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After a long day of travel and meetings, you probably feel like relaxing and crawling into bed. Because it’s not your bed, you might not sleep as well as you normally do. So, who has time to exercise when travelling?

Keep it simple by fitting in exercise where you can, including in your hotel room. Many hotels may have gyms, but if they don’t, or you don’t have the time, you can easily workout in your room.

There are lots of movements that are suitable for your hotel room. Any strengthening exercise like sit-ups, push-ups, planking or lunges is a great idea. Yoga is also a great type of exercise to do in your room. Ending your day with a yoga session may also help you rest better.

Don’t Sacrifice Healthy Foods for Convenience

It’s so much easier to run into a Macca then to think about what you’re eating. While not everything at Macca’s is terrible, it’s best to eat a good balance of lean meats, vegetables and fruit. These foods will give you energy, rather than making you feel sluggish like high carb, high sugar foods will.

When dining out while on a work trip, choose simple things from the menu that you know will be fresh. Menu items can be deceiving. That salad isn’t so healthy when it’s topped by bacon or heavy dressings. Eating a lighter dinner while travelling is also a recommendation. Eating too much may cause bloating, making it uncomfortable as you are trying to get some sleep.

You also always should keep snacks on hand while you’re on the go. Having a protein bar or other healthy portable snack means that when hunger strikes, you’re prepared. If your office has healthy snack delivery then take a few things from the box for the trip, like protein bars or other high-energy food.

Sticking to a healthy diet is hard any day of the week. Travelling adds another layer of difficulty to the situation. Be prepared for hunger with snacks and eat sensibly at meals. If you decide to indulge a bit, then eat less than you normally would to keep things in moderation.

Get Enough Rest

Resting during a work trip may seem impossible. You’ll probably be up for many hours. You might have an early flight or be driving for hours. You’ll feel extremely drained once you finally arrive but that doesn’t mean you will get any rest.

If your day is packed with travel time followed by events or meetings, it’s likely you won’t see the bed as soon as your body would like. You might have time for a power nap on the plan, however, real rest may not be something you'll enjoy any time soon.

Then once you are ready for bed, there are more obstacles to slumber. It’s a new bed and new environment so your body has to adjust. Consider reading before bed instead of watching the tube. This relaxes you more and carries you off to sleep.

How to Improve the Health of Your Travelling Employees

Travelling for work doesn’t magically cause poor health. There are many factors involved; however, long periods of inactivity as well less sleep and more stress can impact health. No one is doomed to gain weight because they travel. It’s about the choices made related to diet and exercise.

Be creative in the way your company approaches health while on the road. Your company should also support its travelling employees. Any employee wellness plan should include tips and ideas for travellers on how to stay healthy while on the road. You could even hold training or workshops for your frequent travellers to ensure they are aware of these tips to staying healthy during work trips.

Another great action for companies to take to show their concern is to pack a snack bag for workers before they leave. If your location participates in a healthy snack delivery program, then pull a few of these snack boxes out and choose a few items for your traveller. They’ll need snacks when hunger strikes. This will keep them energised and they will gladly appreciate the snack box you shared with them.

A Healthy Culture Transcends

Being healthy on the road is part of a company’s culture. If your company establishes a health and wellness program, then those that participate should see results. If the culture is strong, it goes way beyond the four walls of your office. It becomes part of your employees' regular daily habits, ones that are easier to maintain while travelling.

Your employees will appreciate the care of thinking about their situations. Most companies ignore this part of an employee’s work life. If you can provide context and resources to them about how to be healthier on the road then they could make better choices. Start with guides from SnackWize on a healthy and engaged workforce and office snacking. These best practices are applicable in the office as well as on the road.

SnackWize is committed to helping Australian workplaces get healthier, and we do it with snack food delivery. Subscription snack boxes are shipped directly to your office and can be customized, including paleo snack boxes, vegan snack boxes and gluten-free snack boxes. Start your snack delivery today with a sample box.

Conor Reynolds