Business travel

An airport is no substitute for the gym

April 26, 2011 at 8:02 AM ET

From airport food that is roughly 100 percent sodium to the roof of the plane potentially coming off to a sleeping air traffic controller guiding a plane, you’d think air travel is getting dangerous.

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A new study says it may be. Although not in the convertible-plane or narcoleptic-controller sort of way.

The study, released Monday in the Journal of Occupational Health and Environmental Medicine, says that frequent business travelers were more likely to describe their health as “fair” or “poor.”

More than 13,000 subjects were studied from data supplied by a corporate wellness program. It looked at three groups: Non-travelers, occasional travelers (80 percent of those surveyed) and “extensive travelers” who run at the George Clooney in “Up in the Air” pace of 20 or more nights a month on the road.

Those Clooney-esque road warriors are not a healthy bunch. And they certainly don’t look like him. They are 92 percent more likely to be obese, with high blood pressure and unfavorable cholesterol levels.

Several factors could contribute to this, the researchers said, including poor sleep, fattening foods and long periods of inactivity.

We’re no scientists, but we’d guess that doubles-for-$1-extra, migraine-inducing flight delays and blood-pressure-raising bag fees also have something to do with it.

How do you try to stay healthy on the road?