By Alison Fox
February 14, 2020

We all love a good vacation. It can relax you, excite you, and teach you about yourself by experiencing cultures much different than your own.

It turns out, it’s also really good for your heart health.

Taking a vacation can actually decrease the number of metabolic symptoms in people, according to a study published in the journal Psychology & Health in 2019. The study looked at 63 workers who were eligible for paid vacation and tracked the time off they took over 12 months.

“Overall, vacations are experienced as positive events,” the study’s authors wrote. “This positive subjective experience may translate into physical health benefits given that vacation frequency may protect against metabolic syndrome and symptoms.”

Participants in the study took about five vacations using two weeks of their paid time off, rating those vacations “positively.” And with each new vacation someone took, according to the study, the risk for metabolic syndrome decreased by almost a quarter.

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On top of that, participants reported they were less stressed by things like childcare and financial burdens.

The sad fact remains, however, that most Americans don’t use all of their paid time off. In fact, 36 percent of Americans took their last vacation more than two years ago, according to a study by Allianz Global Assistance. And 51 percent of U.S. residents haven’t gone on a vacation in more than a year.

The U.S. is also one of the only wealthy nations that does not guarantee paid time off, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

But it’s no secret that taking a break is great for your mental health in addition to your physical health. So while you may not be able to take a month long break jumping from country to country in Europe, you can plan a break that will reset your state of mind.

Try a “micro-cation” over a long weekend, embrace the idea of a staycation, or find time to fit in some fun on your next work trip. The concept of “bleisure,” or combining business and leisure, is becoming more and more popular.

Whatever vacation or break you choose to take, don’t forget: you’re protecting your heart by doing it.

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