BY Fast Company 2 MINUTE READ

The prospect of going on a business trip is exciting and glamorous, and more than half of local travellers believe travelling for business has no impact on their health. However, statistics tell a different story: Most business travellers skip exercising, sleep less and forgo healthy eating which impacts health and increases stress levels.

During a research survey carried out by an independent research company on behalf of The Westin Cape Town hotel, only 32% of business travellers believed their health was impacted by business travel. Of the respondents, 52% did not believe business travel impacted on their health and 17% were unsure.

But the same survey found that only 18% of travellers said they exercised while on a business trip, with another 40% reporting that they occasionally exercised while away.

The overwhelming majority (82%) were sleeping for less than six hours. Of the respondents, 62% slept less than when at home.

The World Sleep Society has found that there is a direct correlation between your sleep and your overall well-being. Sleep is also foundational for people to reap the benefits of exercise and is essential in recovery after exercise.

According to the research, business trips generally seem to exacerbate feelings of stress for most travellers. During the survey, 67% of respondents stated that business travel did definitely or sometimes impact on their stress levels.

A significant increase in stress has been found to impact negatively on both physical and mental health. Stress has an effect on the health of one’s heart, immune system, metabolism and hormones and has also been linked to depression and anxiety.

The local survey findings are in line with international studies. The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published research showing international business travellers had higher illness rates than leisure travellers, and a Harvard Business Review report found a correlation between frequent travel and a number of health risks, such as obesity, anxiety.

But despite the health impacts, local travellers stated there is still joy to be found in business trips – 79% of respondents reported really enjoying travelling for business.

“As we commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month, it is important to highlight the effect stressful business travel can have on one’s wellbeing, as well as promote the importance of a good night’s sleep, a healthy diet and a consistent exercise regime. This is why The Westin has created an assortment of facilities and programmes to ensure that wellness remains at the heart of every guest experience, enabling them to rise refreshed and ready to tackle their business goals,” says Leon Meyer, General Manager at The Westin Cape Town.