5 Ways Travel Is Good for Your Health, According to Experts
We don't need to sit here and tell you the obvious — we all know these are stressful times we're living in. But what we do need to share with you is that there's a solution when it comes to alleviating at least a little bit of that emotional weight: Taking a trip, even if it's to a destination just around the corner.
"When elevations in stress hormones — such as cortisol — are sustained, we put our bodies at an increased risk for many ailments and chronic diseases," Dr. Kristin McKitish, a physician at Evolved Science in New York City, told Travel + Leisure. "Think high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, insomnia, brain fog, digestive issues, and more. It is imperative that we take the time to combat these stressors and traveling can be a great tool."
According to McKitish, travel allows us to step away from our daily stressors and "reboot our bodies and minds, ultimately improving overall health."
"Traveling provides our minds with time to relax and heal, easing worries and anxiety and improving mood," McKitish added. "These benefits are not only seen during travel, but for sometime thereafter, which can lead to an improvement in focus, productivity, and mental health upon returning."
How else is travel good for your mind, body, and soul? Keep reading to find out.
Travel can improve heart health.
In 2019, researchers followed 63 workers who were eligible for paid vacation and tracked the time off they took over 12 months. The team, which published their findings in the journal Psychology & Health in 2019, found those who took more vacation days had fewer metabolic syndrome incidences or symptoms than those who did not. The researchers even found that the risk for metabolic syndrome "decreased by nearly a quarter with each additional vacation taken by participants."
"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."
Vacations can alleviate stress for a prolonged period of time.
Sure, the act of sitting on a beach drinking a fruity cocktail will most certainly leave you feeling carefree, but it turns out that feeling may last well past your return home. According to a 2018 study, even taking a short vacation (defined here as a long four-day weekend) led to a decrease in stress for at least five weeks following the trip.
As the researchers noted, "A short vacation might be a worthwhile alternative for protecting the health of middle managers, even though reducing stress at the source should not be ignored."
Trips to nature can help us breathe easier.
Want to work those lungs and keep your breathing in tip-top shape? Head out for a nature-filled vacation. As one 2019 study published in the Journal Nature explained, "A growing body of epidemiological evidence indicates that greater exposure to, or 'contact with' natural environments (such as parks, woodlands, and beaches) is associated with better health and well-being." The scientists added, "living in greener urban areas is associated with lower probabilities of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma hospitalization, mental distress, and ultimately mortality, among adults; and lower risks of obesity and myopia in children."
And these benefits aren't just for those living directly in nature. The researchers added that city dwellers can reap the benefits too by "visiting green spaces outside your neighborhood." Need help deciding where you can go to get outside? Here are 10 trips that may do the trick.
Getting away can boost productivity and make you a better employee.
Taking a vacation may be the best thing for you if you feel like you're in a professional rut.
A 2016 report by Project: Time Off found that workers who took 11 or more vacation days per year were more likely to have received a raise or a bonus in the previous three years over those who took 10 or fewer days off from work.
"The productivity, creativity, and bringing new ideas forward isn't the person who's working crazy hours," Katie Denis, VP and lead researcher at Project: Time Off, shared with CNBC. "It's someone who's getting outside of their day-to-day life."
Seeing the world can make you more creative.
According to Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, if you're in need of a creative boost all you need to do is add a passport stamp to your collection.
In his research, published by the American Psychological Association, Galinsky and his research partners show that those who've spent significant time abroad (ie: living in a different country) have higher creative tendencies than those who don't.
Why? As Shelley H. Carson, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Harvard University, told Vogue, the act of travel "...exposes us to new experiences and new ideas. When we are creative, our vision becomes broader and the world opens to us, similar to the way our perspective broadens when we travel."