Being on vacation feels good. You know it, I know it, it’s no big surprise. But you may not know that there are proven scientific reasons as to why taking a vacation is beneficial healthwise. So go ahead and book that flight to Cuba or weekend getaway in Prince Edward County, science says so. Here are seven reasons why a vacation is good for your health:
1. Your stress levels decrease
A study published in the journal Psychology and Health concluded that vacation time diminished perceived job stress and burnout in blue-collar workers in the industrial sector. Stress levels decreased immediately after the vacation, and stayed low for a month before returning to “prevacation levels”. But the timeline on vacations and stress relief varies between studies.
Another study released by the American Psychological Association found that vacation time reduced stress by removing the source of the stressor, but stress levels increased again immediately upon returning to work.
However the cookie crumbles, the evidence that vacations decrease stress levels seems to be pretty indisputable.
2. You sleep better
When’s the last time you got a good night’s sleep? Statistics Canada reports that a whopping one-third of Canadian adults “sleep fewer hours per night than recommended for optimal physical and mental health.” That’s a lot of people.
And lack of sleep is no joke. According to Statistics Canada, consistently insufficient sleep is tied to a variety of health concerns, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, irritability, and reduced well-being, to name a few.
Studies show that people tend to sleep better on vacation. This may be due to the fact that vacations disrupt the factors that contribute to poor sleep, including demands placed on you by your workplace and social commitments. If you can’t sleep because you have a lot on your mind, vacations offer a chance for you to put aside those problems and sleep peacefully.
3. You’re more productive
Productivity goes hand in hand with burnout. If you’re feeling overworked and burnt out at work, then you’re not going to be very productive. Taking time away from work to recharge and reduce your stress levels, in turn, increases your on the job productivity when you return.
Studies show that productivity can increase even after a quick weekend getaway, with more enhanced benefits seen with longer vacation time.
A vacation also gets you out of your normal day-to-day routine and can spur creativity. Sometimes a creative mindset is just the ticket to help you solve a work-related problem, thereby making you more productive when you return.
4. Your heart is happier
The Government of Canada states heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada. That’s a scary statistic, but studies indicate that you can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease, simply by taking a vacation. Yes, you read that right.
A study conducted by Air New Zealand in partnership with former NASA scientists concluded that going on vacation lowered travellers’ heart rates by more than four percent!
A study by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute found that men at high risk of coronary heart disease, who take frequent annual vacations, were 32% less likely to die from heart disease (and 21% less likely to die from any cause).
A separate study known as the Framingham Heart Study found that men who didn’t take time off for many years were 30% more likely to have heart attacks than those who did go on vacation.
In the same study, women who vacationed just once every six years were almost eight times more likely to develop heart disease, have a heart attack, or die of coronary-related causes than those who vacationed a minimum of twice a year.
5. You’re less likely to experience depression and anxiety
According to a study conducted in rural Wisconsin, women who vacationed less often (less than once every two years) were more likely to struggle with depression and high stress levels than those who vacationed more often (at least twice a year).
Another study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh found that vacations, as a leisure activity, contributed to less depression and more positive emotions.
6. You’ll have faster reaction times
Okay, this may be one benefit you weren’t expecting to read. But that study I mentioned earlier that was conducted by Air New Zealand in partnership with former NASA scientists also found reaction time in participants was higher after the trip than it had been before the vacation.
If your job or hobby demands you to be quick on your feet, go on vacation and reap the reaction time rewards when you return.
7. You might live longer
There are a lot of claims out there that adding or removing habits from your life can help you live longer. Eat more vegetables you’ll live longer. Exercise more often you’ll live longer. While this may be the case, did you ever expect me to tell you: “Go on that vacation you’ve been dying to book, you’ll live longer”?
Finally here’s a fun activity that you actually enjoy doing that can contribute to longevity!
When I’m not writing, you can find me biking, paddle boarding, or snowshoeing in the Great White North, Canada.