At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard that a vacation would “do you good.” But have you ever stopped to wonder if there is any truth to that? Apparently, there is. A study conducted way back in 2000 showed that going on vacation actually does improve both your mental and physical health and specifically your cardiovascular wellness.
The study followed middle-aged men over the course of nine years. At the end of that period, it was determined that the men who took regular, annual vacations were less likely to have cardiovascular health problems and were at lower risk for heart attacks. Similar studies have shown that people who vacation often have a lower stress level and a lower risk for clinical depression.
Most scientists will tell you that the studies are primarily observational. While that leaves some room for a grey area, the idea that vacations are good for you isn’t exactly far-fetched. The human body needs time to recover and restore, and if we’re not giving it that time, we run a higher risk for health problems.
Most doctors will agree that when they get a patient with cardiovascular concerns, one of the first things they recommend is reducing their stress levels. An overabundance of stress increases blood pressure and the risk for heart attack. One of the best ways to reduce stress is to take some time off.
However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to take a vacation, according to the medical experts.
For you to truly get the most out of taking some time off, you have to completely unplug from the stressors in your life. That means no phone calls, emails, or any other activity that usually contributes to your stress levels. Even if you just sneak in a few minutes of email here and there each day, you’re diminishing the value of your vacation time.
It’s also important not to go overboard with your diet while on vacation. Too often we get the idea that since we’re taking “time off,” we can eat and drink like maniacs. While you can certainly indulge a little, binge eating or drinking can lead to health issues far worse than what you started with.
Doctors will tell you that managing a healthy diet and exercise are the best things you can do for your cardiovascular health, but a good vacation now and then certainly won’t hurt!