Business travelers are prone to bad eating habits and physical inactivity. This coupled with rising healthcare costs is inspiring company-run wellness programs designed to target the needs of the road warrior. Christopher Elliott of The New York Times reports on the actions of the Parksite Group:
The new programs do more than educate frequent travelers about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle punctuated by deep-fried meals. They use online journals, Web-based support groups and other technologies to keep employees healthy while they are on the road.
It is too early to gauge the effectiveness of these programs, but there are some notable early successes. In 2004, for example, Parksite's health care premiums soared by 23 percent. But last year, after its wellness program began to take hold, its costs did not change even as other employee expenses were rising. The wellness program is run by the ComPsyche Corporation of Chicago.
Programs like this are encouraging, but experts insist changing behaviors requires more:
"In order to change your behavior, you need more than just one workshop," said Mindy Paulet, director of the work-life programs at Purdue University, who administers a wellness course developed by Human Kinetics, which is based in Champaign, Ill. "A workshop can't change your behavior. It can't change a sedentary or inactive employee. That takes time."