As the holidays draw near, many people are thinking about whether they should book a holiday vacation or not. It can be expensive to travel, even if you come out of it with amazing memories.
But science has found that travel is well worth the money and does far more than just add a few life experiences to your belt. If you’re looking for a healthier physical and mental outlook in 2017, travel could be one of the best activities you could choose to get you there.
Studies Show How Traveling Boosts Health
The Huffington Post recently published a study that shows how travel can substantially improve one’s health. A major takeaway from the study was that only 25 percent of Americans take all their paid vacation days, but nearly 42 percent ns don’t use any of their paid vacation time.
Furthermore, 61 percent of full-time employees do work while they’re on vacation, which undoubtedly lessens the “vacation getaway” aspects of the trip. Direct parallels may be drawn between these numbers and the high amounts of stress, anxiety, depression, obesity, heart risks, and other serious mental and physical health risks that plague today’s workforce.
Research from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) shows that 80 percent of Americans experience some level of stress in the workplace. In addition, 72 percent of that number say that daily stress interferes with their ability to work.
Studies also reveal the profound impact that work has on our physical bodies. Working too much correlates to eating unhealthy and infrequent meals, reduced exercising, back and joint pain, heart disease risks, and other unhealthy trends, thanks to the rigors of working overtime without necessary breaks.
All these facts and statistics inspired The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) to publish a study about the risk factors that influence employee health and mortality. The findings clearly intimate that taking a vacation is an excellent way for employees to extend their life expectancy and increase their quality of life in the present.
According to the JAMA findings, men who take frequent vacations were 32 percent less likely to die from heart disease. A 20-year study featured in the article also indicated that women who took vacations no more than once every six years were almost eight times more likely to die from coronary heart disease than women who went on a vacation at least twice a year.
Another study featured in JAMA involved 1,400 participants, whose health numbers indicated that leisure activities are directly correlated with reduced stress and a better mental attitude. People who made leisure time and travel a priority every year experienced fewer feelings of depression and negativity.
These aren’t the first studies to come up with such findings. Researchers have uncovered connections between greater mental and physical health and travel for years, and the findings become more certain as more evidence accumulates.
How to Make the Most Out of Travel
Travel in and of itself is a great activity for promoting health and well-being, but there’s more you can do to enjoy those benefits. Here are some of the ways you can make the most of your vacations, no matter how short they are.
- Get into Shape: Plan activities that will require you to do a little physical exertion. Lack of exercise is one of the primary health challenges faced by full-time employees. Indolence leads to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and other serious health problems that will challenge your health for the rest of your life. Plan a whitewater rafting trip, go for hikes, take a walk on the beach, and participate in other physical activities that can be both relaxing and invigorating.
- Seek Out Cultural Diversity: When you learn about other cultures, you stretch your mental capacity and increase your creativity. Using your mind for this kind of stretching will lead to reduced stress and anxiety.
- Boost Your Immune System: When you travel, you’re exposed to new dirt as well as foods, and minor illnesses that can actually make you stronger and more healthy. This builds your immune system naturally so you can fight off illness more effectively. Also, you’re less likely to get sick when you’re relaxed and well rested, which can be typical benefits of relaxation and travel.
- Wind Down and Unplug: Don’t spend your time on vacation keyed up and glued to your electronics. Put down the phone, close up the computer, and live in the present. Leave work behind you so you can fully enjoy your vacation. You’ll never get the complete benefits of travel if you don’t choose to stay in the moment and leave your work cares and even customary forms of entertainment behind.
Study after study has proven the profound impact of travel on health and well-being. So this coming year, take advantage of any travel opportunities you can manage to swing. You’ll enjoy renewed physical and mental health and a stronger outlook on life through travel.