There’s nothing better than getting out of town and getting away from the office. Whether it’s for a weekend, a week, or two weeks, you’ll likely feel rested, refreshed, and ready to roll once you return from a vacation.
But traveling is much more than just fun. Research indicates that it can actually deliver several benefits to your mental and physical health. Here are six reasons why travel is good for your health:
1. It’s Good for Your Heart
Could traveling help lower your risk of heart attack? One study bears this out. According to the findings, women who take a vacation at least two times a year have a substantially lower risk of dying from a coronary issue than women who only vacation once every six or more years. Men who don’t take a yearly vacation are 30 percent more likely to die due to a heart issue than men who do.1
2. It Helps Reduce Stress
You obviously know that taking some time off can reduce your stress level. But you might not know just how important that is to your overall health. Stress can lead to a lack of motivation, anger, depression, and anxiety. But it can also cause physical problems, such as chest pain, upset stomach, and muscle pain.
In one study, researchers examined about 900 attorneys, and found that traveling helped reduce their depression. But what about regular leisure activities, like a weekly golf game? Can that be beneficial? In this study, scientists found participating in “passive” leisure activities that weren’t vacation-related did nothing to help improve depression.3
3. It Frees Your Creative Spirit
Travel is linked to increased creativity, research indicates. It’s believed that international travel is especially helpful in this regard. The reason is that going to a foreign land can increase your brain’s cognitive flexibility, which promotes creative thinking. In one study, researchers looked at fashion designers whose works were considered to be especially creative by a panel of fashion buyers and trade journalists. The researchers found that the designers who had lived in multiple foreign countries tended to be more creative than those who had not.4
4. It May Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
If you notice that you sleep better while on vacation, you’re not alone. Science supports the idea that taking vacations can boost the quality of your sleep. And this effect might linger even after you return home.
Fifteen vacationers participated in a study that analyzed how well they slept. They each wore a device on their wrist that measured sleep quality. They began wearing the device three days before their vacation, and continued to wear it for three days after they returned. In addition, their reaction times were measured before they left on their trip, during their vacation, and after their trip. Participants also kept a sleep diary.
According to the findings, the participants were still averaging an hour of additional quality sleep two to three days after their vacations ended. Their reaction times had also improved an average of 80 percent over pre-vacation levels.5
5. It Helps You Develop Your Personality
Taking a vacation to a place you’ve never been can go a long way toward helping you expand your mind. Not only do you meet new people, you’ll need to adapt to an unfamiliar environment. This is great for your brain, because it helps you stay sharp and flexible.6
6. It May Boost Your Fitness Level
Active travel means taking a trip where you’ll be doing things such as biking, hiking, or engaging in other types of physical activity. Try taking a trip where you won’t be lounging for hours at a time or sitting in a lot of vehicles. Instead, go to a place where you’ll want to get out and walk to see the sights. Or head to the mountains. Even a trip to the beach can help if you get out and walk on the beach, and swim regularly.
The impact on your health will depend on the length of your trip, the type of terrain you encounter, and the food you eat, among other things. Getting away from dirty air can also have a positive effect on your wellness, as can making new friends. There are a lot of reasons you should consider scheduling a trip involving active travel on a regular basis.7
The Last Word
As you can see, travel is not only good for your health, it could be the start of a better health plan for you and your family. There are not only emotional benefits, but tangible physical benefits, as well. Traveling can help keep you sharp mentally, and it can also make you stronger from a fitness perspective. Whether you travel on your own or with family or friends, you’ll be better off when you return.