Science does not have to tell us how vacations can relax and re-energize us, but new research now suggests people who take vacations more frequently are at a decreased risk of developing heart disease!
The study, which was published in the Journal of Psychology & Health, was carried out by researchers from Syracuse University. The researchers interviewed over 60 individuals about their vacation habits within the last 12 months.
The participants were asked about whether they had metabolic syndrome — whether they manifested symptoms associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, high HDL cholesterol level, and high waist circumference. They were then asked to evaluate their vacations based on different aspects, such as length, location, financial burden, alcohol use, sleep habits, the occurrence of negative events (if any), and how much they could disconnect themselves from their work during their trips.
At the end of their study, the researchers discovered that people who went on vacations more often in the past year exhibited lower risk for metabolic syndrome and metabolic symptoms. They also found that the possibility of developing metabolic syndrome tended to decrease by 24% with every vacation an individual takes. The New York Postreported that the number of vacations that the participants went on throughout the previous 12 months were between 0 and 15.
The participants also reported they experienced low levels of stress during their trips. “Stress incurred from traveling, spending money and providing childcare while vacationing was rated low. Importantly, one of the most commonly reported activities occurring during vacations were social activities such as spending time with family or sharing a meal with friends,” the study said.
For the researchers, the only takeaway is this: don’t let opportunities to go on vacations pass you by!
“One of the important takeaways is that vacation time is available to nearly 80% of full-time employees, but fewer than half utilize all the time available to them,” said Bryce Hruska, an assistant professor of public health at Syracuse’s Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, who served as lead author of the study, in a press release. “Our research suggests that if people use more of this benefit, one that’s already available to them, it would translate into a tangible health benefit.”
Hruska also told the New York Post that “if someone is doing more vacationing they can actually decrease their risk for cardiovascular disease. Anecdotally, people say that vacations are relaxing, and so the thought is that if you vacation more frequently, you’ve got a reduction [in] stress and associated physiological and that may translate into fewer of those metabolic symptoms.”
So don’t feel guilty about taking the time to go on vacations with your family, no matter how busy or stressful life might become. Your heart will thank you for it!