Staying Healthy On The Road

How business travelers can take charge of their well-being

Business traveler Chris Watkins, owner and manager of a Los Angeles-based sales, marketing and merchandising company, has learned over time how to stay healthy while crisscrossing the country. “I get weather updates and pack accordingly,” says Watkins. “I take plenty of vitamin C and try to get enough sleep.”

Those tips ensure a smart start to any business traveler’s journey. Another essential precaution: maintaining a proper diet, which often goes by the wayside. “It’s easy to eat fast, greasy food when you’re on the run,” notes Watkins. Make sure not to skip breakfast. Take time to pack fruit and water in your carry-on bag and avoid sugary snacks.

Also avoid those tempting breakfast buffets heaped high with fatty food, “a breakfast more likely to slow you down than pick you up,” advises travel expert Christopher J. McGinnis, author of The Unofficial Business Traveler’s Pocket Guide (McGraw Hill, $10.95). Be choosy about restaurants and survey the menus. “Don’t order the most expensive item simply because you’re on an expense account,” warns McGinnis. Consider steamed vegetables, salads and baked or grilled meats, then order a fresh fruit plate for dessert.

Lucy Tompkins, head of Stanford University Medical Center’s Infectious Disease Prevention Program, advises business travelers to wash hands often, a simple act that can greatly reduce the chance of catching a respiratory infection. Colds and flu are actually picked up from surfaces, such as armrests and washroom basins, not from recirculated air, as many people believe.

Frequent travelers are also more susceptible to mental stress. Business travelers, in fact, file more insurance claims for mental health problems than other workers. The key is stress management.

Don’t feel guilty about taking a break. “I’m already expending more energy than normal, trying to catch flights and get to meetings,” says Watkins. “So I always take my mind off work.” He also continues his exercise routine while traveling, a great stress reliever.

For more advice, log on to Stanford University’s health tips Web site at www.med.stanford.edu/center/ communications/Health Tips.

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