It doesn’t require a scientific study for people to know that taking a vacation is a good thing; being on the beach, exploring a new city, or seeing astounding sights is a reward in and of itself. However, perhaps people do need more of an excuse to stop working and hit the road. Studies have shown that, even though Americans get less vacation time than workers in many other countries in the West, more than half don’t use their full allotment. Those who find it hard to tear themselves away from work will do well to learn about the research that has revealed numerous health benefits to traveling.
It will surprise few people to find out that studies have shown numerous mental health benefits to vacationing. Vacations tend to be correlated with strengthening familial relationships, improving mental acuity, and reducing stress. However, many may not know that these benefits translate into better physical health. Stress is linked to myriad health problems, from headaches to cancer, and relieving this stress can strengthen the immune system and protect against disease. Indeed, leisure activity in general and vacations in particular are associated with better health outcomes, improved mood, and higher rates of life satisfaction.
Perhaps the most intensive research on the subject of the relationship between health and vacation can be found in the Framingham Heart Study, a major study that included 12,000 male participants who were consistently surveyed over 9 years. While the study included research on many subjects, those looking for a good reason to take a vacation will mainly be interested in the correlation between traveling and overall health. Put simply, the more often one traveled, the longer one lived. So, for those who need an excuse to get away from work for a weekend or longer, be guided by science: traveling is a great way to live longer and be happier.