I travel quite a bit for work. When I talk to other frequent business travelers, the most common complaint I hear is that it’s difficult to eat healthfully and to find time to exercise. I agree that these are real challenges! But we have a choice in the matter. Making it a priority to stay on track with your routine—at least most of the time—can help you not only manage the stressors of travel and work but also give you the energy you need to make it through the typically long days.
Consistently and effectively blending business travel with one’s personal health and well-being calls for activities that are convenient, accessible, and fun. Yes, I said fun! This brings me to my most recent business travel: Atlanta, Georgia for the 2016 HERO Forum.
HERO, or the Health Enhancement Research Organization, hosts its annual conference for employers, researchers, consultants, and providers of employee health management programs (like StayWell). I look forward to this event each year for the chance to network, learn, discuss, debate and brainstorm around challenges and opportunities affecting the employee health management industry with the thought leaders of the industry, employers and others who are committed to improving the health and well-being of their workforce and their communities.
I especially look forward to the HERO Fun Run + Walk sponsored by StayWell. This is a fantastic event that we host each year as part of the HERO Forum to foster connections and physical activity. The event is a guided run/walk and is a perfect way to mix work-travel with fitness, get some fresh air, revitalize one’s energy, see the local sites and socialize with other attendees. It is simply practicing what we preach day in and day out by focusing on our personal physical, professional, emotional, spiritual and social health and well-being.
We had nearly 200 Forum attendees participate in the Fun Run + Walk this year. What an amazing turnout! As an avid runner currently training for several events yet this year, this was the perfect opportunity to log some running miles while catching up with industry friends and colleagues. My way of doing business: running meetings.
For me, the Fun Run + Walk was the ideal end to the day, providing the physical jumpstart that my body needed and that my brain had been experiencing all week. The Fun Run + Walk took me and my running partners on a tour through Piedmont Park and the Beltline. Meanwhile, our walkers enjoyed the interesting landscapes, architectural features and monuments in the Atlanta Botanical Garden and several other Atlanta points of interest, such as the Margaret Mitchell House (author of “Gone with the Wind”), the Varsity (world’s largest drive-in), and Georgia Tech.
The beautiful weather and fantastic company made this run my favorite of the week. The cheers we received from passers-by brought a smile to my face and a surge of pride to be part of an organization that truly embraces and supports well-being. Take a moment to check out photos from the HERO Forum Fun Run + Walk yourself at our Facebook page.
Unfortunately, this sort of active opportunity isn’t always available. The reality is that business travel is wrought with challenges – airports and flight delays, time zone changes, long meetings, short nights, eating out. The key is to keep your health and well-being a priority so you can continue to be effective and successful at your work. It can be not only physically draining, but mentally taxing. The good news is that more and more conferences are becoming fitness friendly by including onsite fitness and stress management classes on the meeting agendas.
Several hotel chains have focused on promoting healthy eating and making exercise more accessible. And, don’t forget to check with your hotel concierge for maps of local running/walking paths for opportunities to take in the local culture (think bike rental). It doesn’t need to be complicated, a little effort to find a moment in your busy day will pay dividends by jumpstarting your mind and engaging your body.
In good health,
Erin Seaverson, MPH
StayWell Sr. Director of Research and Evaluation & Running Fanatic