Like a lot of reporters, I spare a fair amount of a time on the road, maybe eight to 10 days a month on average. I like traveling — I wouldn’t have gotten into this line of work if I didn’t — and as TIME’s environment reporter, I’ve gotten to visit places I especially like: Madagascar, Siberia, Hokkaido, Ecuador, India and, um, Alberta. I’ve racked up serious frequent flyer miles, stamps in my passport — and maybe some damage to my health.
As any frequent business traveler knows, there’s a dark side to spending all that time in the air and in the car. It’s tough to eat healthily on the road, where fast-food restaurants and airport outlets seem to conspire to make you fat. Many hotels lack gyms, and the frazzled schedule of a road trip rarely leaves time for exercise anyway. I often return home to New York City exhausted, feeling like I have French fry grease running through my veins.
As it turns out, there’s medical evidence for the (crappy) way I feel. A new study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine by Andrew Rundle and Catherine Richards of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health has found that business travelers who spend the most time on the road tend to have higher rates of obesity and poorer self-rated health than those who travel less frequently.