Often our new year’s resolutions have to do with health and fitness. To that end, did you know that travel keeps us healthy? That fact has been documented in multiple scientific studies, so why not craft your 2021 resolutions around travel? That way your resolutions don’t have to be a drag to fulfill. You can have fun while improving your general well-being. Here are six ways travel keeps us healthy.
Travel Enhances Happiness and Satisfaction
Travel lets us pleasurably reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones. In fact, the benefits start well before the actual vacation. Multiple studies have found that just the act of planning a trip increases happiness. The anticipation of taking a vacation creates a sense of joy about our future.
- Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin found that women who vacation at least twice a year are less likely to suffer from depression than women who vacation less than once every two years.
Travel Relieves Stress & Decreases Risk of Heart Disease
Travel removes us from our daily routines and allows us to relax and reset. It gives us a temporary reprieve from the stress and anxiety caused by work, school, or other obligations. But that emotional amnesty lasts longer than the actual getaway.
- A scientific study (MDPI) showed that a four-day “long weekend” vacation had positive effects on well-being, recovery, strain, and perceived stress for as long as 45 days.
More than half of Americans don’t take all of their paid vacation days and more than a third haven’t taken a vacation in two years. These statistics are from 2019, based on 2018. You can be sure that they are even higher in 2020, given the travel restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the pressures of today’s world, vacations are not only important but vital.
- Framingham Heart Study found that men and women who travel annually are less likely to suffer a heart attack or develop heart disease.
- The Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association, found that women who vacation at least twice a year show a significantly lower risk of suffering a heart attack than those who only travel every six years or so.
- Men who do not take an annual vacation show a 20 percent higher risk of death and a 30 percent greater risk of heart disease.
Travel Keeps Us Healthy by Improving Brain Health
Travel expands our minds, increases cultural awareness and empathy, and forces us to adapt to new situations. It takes us out of our own cultural bubble and increases our sense of connection with people from different backgrounds. When we physically travel to another place, we learn more about the world than we ever can vicariously by reading books or watching movies.
- Psychological research shows that cross-cultural experiences have the potential to strengthen our own sense of self and give us the ability to differentiate our own beliefs and values.
- Journal of Personality and Social Psychology says people who travel tend to be more emotionally stable.
- Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School has extensively studied the connection between creativity and international travel. He found a clear correlation between time spent abroad and the creative output of the directors of 270 high-end fashion houses.
Travel Increases Physical Fitness
Without question, travel is an active pursuit. It doesn’t have to include adventure sports to qualify. Normal activities like walking city streets, dancing the night away, and hiking to get the best view all put your muscles into action. Seemingly simple activities like walking in the sand and even shopping can be quite a workout.
Of course, many of us enjoy doing more extreme physical activities while on vacation, too. The list of possibilities is endless: snorkeling, diving, surfing, windsurfing, parasailing, kayaking, river rafting, rock climbing, ziplining, cycling, mountain biking, skiing, snowmobiling, horseback riding… Have you ever considered extreme ironing?
Travel Boosts the Immune System
Antibodies protect the immune system from harmful pathogens. These antibodies perform better when they get some practice – just like an athlete uses training and practice to strengthen her muscles. When you are exposed to dirt, bacteria, and even minor illnesses as you travel, your body adapts and gets stronger. So even getting a bit dirty when we travel makes us healthier.
That’s not suggesting you should avoid practicing good hygiene and washing your hands frequently – especially in today’s COVID environment. You should also know when you can drink tap water. Just because locals drink it safely doesn’t mean your body will tolerate it.
Travel Helps You Live Longer!
These physiological and psychological benefits of reducing stress and increasing body and brain health add up to a longer life expectancy. And that’s a win/win because while travel keeps us healthier, we improve our chances of living longer AND get to have more fun doing it!
So instead of going on a diet or joining a gym, let’s make some travel resolutions this new year. Covington vacation advisors have years of experience and tons of creative ideas to help fulfill them. Contact us today to get started.