For all of you who have spent years envying the co-worker or friend who is constantly on the go, traveling from country to country and seeing amazing sights, this may be your time to gloat. It turns out all that travel, in the long run, may actually be really bad for you.
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A 15 year study done by the deputy director of research at the University of Surrey, Scott Cohen, has shown what may be disturbing to those who travel constantly. For starters, he claims that business travelers age faster. The exposure to constant jet lag can cause memory impairment, influence aging, and increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
The amounts of radiation that you are exposed to are considerably higher than those who do not travel repeatedly. This radiation is hundreds of times higher when you are at high altitudes, than when you are on the ground. He also stated that in just seven flights a year from New York to Tokyo, and back, causes your body to exceed the limit for radiation exposure. Yikes!
Those who fly frequently have weaker immune systems due to the fact that everyone is breathing the same air on each flight. This causes you to be exposed to germs more often, and your immune systems can be confused or shut off due to the jet lag and constant running around.
Frequent travelers are less healthy and more prone to obesity since they don’t eat as many freshly prepared meals as they should. Face it…airline food is not that great to start with. Add the fact that it is drowned with sugar and salt so it will keep its taste at a higher altitude, and you have a poor diet in the making. Alcohol intake is higher for many, and reduced exercise can also take a toll on the body.
Not only will the body suffer, but the mind as well. Jet lag is a powerful thing that can mess with your mood, concentration and even judgment for up to six whole days. People stress when trying to prepare and pack successfully, stress throughout the airport, while traveling, after you land, etc. There is also often a feeling of loneliness among travelers who have to leave loved ones behind many times a week. All these issues can create some mental health problems in the long run.
Don’t give up on travel altogether. Just decide how you can change your ways and become less susceptible to all the problems listed above. Those who travel 14 days or more a month are the ones really at risk for some of these effects. If this is you and you have no way of changing that, try to work on changing what you can. Strive for only healthy meals while traveling, whether you bring your own with you or search out the healthier options along your route. Make it a point to only book hotels with gyms, or at least an exercise room. Be sure to walk around at the airport, don’t just sit still waiting.
Detour around the escalators and moving walkways, and choose stairs or just plain walking instead. Some airports have walking trails outside or even bike rentals so you can get in a workout while you wait.
If at all possible, try to teleconference and avoid making the trip at all. It can save you problems in the long run, and make for a happier, healthier you.