This article is shared with permission from our friends at medicaldaily.com.
Holidays are a time for fun, relaxation and personal pampering, and a new study has revealed that going on vacation could even help rejuvenate the body by cutting blood pressure and lowering stress levels.
What’s more, the study found that the health benefits of going on holiday could last for months.
Health Benefits of Going on Holiday
Holidays reduce blood pressure and stress
Researchers from The Holiday Health Experiment found that leaving on a plane to exotic destinations like Thailand or the Maldives reduces your blood pressure and stress and helps you sleep better.
The study, sponsored by UK’s largest healthcare charity Nuffield Health and traveling agency Kuoni found that the benefits reaped from vacationing can be felt for at least two weeks after the holiday. Researchers claim that in some cases the benefits can last for months, according to the Daily Mail.
Researchers found that as many as a third of workers often decline to take their full holiday entitlement each year. However, experts say that people should always take as many holidays as they can get to reap the health benefits.
The latest study compared the health of people who have vacationed to places like Thailand, Peru and the Maldives to people who stayed at home and continued to work.
They found that the average blood pressure of those who took their vacation time dropped by six percent while the dutiful workers who stayed in the office and continued to work rose by two percent over the same period of time.
Holidays improve sleep quality and boost mood
The study also revealed that the sleep quality of people on holiday improved by 17 percent whereas the sleep quality of the people who stayed back home to work fell by 14 percent.
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The findings also indicate that the ability of people who went on holiday to recover from stress on the stress-resilience test improved by 29 percent where there was a 71 percent fall in stress resilience scores among workers who stayed at home.
Researchers also tested the participants glucose levels and found that going on vacation triggered a fall in glucose levels, therefore reducing vacationers risk of diabetes and obesity and boosting their mood and energy levels.
The study included 12 volunteers. Participants had undergone a health assessment and wore heart monitors to measure their sleep patterns and resilience to stress. Participants were also required to take psychotherapeutic tests and were given advice on diet and lifestyle in the summer of 2012.
Half of the participants were sent on a two-week holiday abroad while the other half remained working at home.
Holidays are good for the heart
After the vacation period, researchers conducted a second array of clinical and psychological tests on all participants. Participants were also asked to wear heart monitors for 3 days.
Researcher Psychotherapist Christine Webber said that reducing blood pressure cuts the risk of stroke and heart attacks and better sleep benefits the immune system.
In one study, a group of women aged 45 to 64 were asked how often they take vacation. The researchers followed up 20 years later to find that women who vacationed every six years or less frequently had a significantly higher risk of heart attack or coronary death compared to the women who vacationed at least twice a year, even after adjusting for other risk factors.
“It’s apparent from our results that the majority of people feel happier, more rested and much less stressed because of their vacations,” she said, according to the Daily Mail. “But, even more importantly, I have discovered that these benefits continue well past the vacation – in fact, for months afterwards.”
“I have also noted with interest that you don’t need to lie on a beach to relax. In the experiment, the couple who went on the busiest holiday had the most long-lasting reduction in stress,” she added.
Holidays are good for the brain
Cognitive health can benefit from travel as well, since challenging new experiences can help the brain develop specific nerve cells. Just as shaking up a workout routine leads to better results, changing your everyday surroundings and experiences is good for your brain, lending to higher energy levels, creativity, and increased productivity.
New stimuli — faces, places, smells, tastes — can help unlock creative ideas. Even if you don’t work in a creative field like the arts or entertainment, tapping into your creativity releases a sense of playfulness and fun, a return to that child-like wonder and curiosity, and can help you sort through challenges at work or in life.
Experts say that the latest study supports the long-held belief that holidays are good for health. They say that holidays are important for boosting productivity as well as longevity.
“Saying you’re too busy to take your full entitlement could be counterproductive. Regular holidays can be counted as preventive medicine,” Kuoni’s managing director Derek Jones said, according to the Daily Mail.
This summer, toss your guilt about leaving the office behind for a little while. Spend time with your family, pursue personal interests, or simply take pleasure in some private down-time.
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