Studies Show That Travel Is Good for Your Health

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With cruise-ship-born illnesses, threats of malaria and government travel warnings coaxing us back inside the safety and comfort of our homes, it’s easy to believe that travel just isn’t good for us. But according to the Global Commission on Aging, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and the U.S. Travel Association, travel can actually reduce your risk of heart disease, promote brain health, battle depression and provide a wide variety of other health benefits.

That’s right. You can tell your boss you actually need that two-week-long Caribbean vacation to keep you in good health. And to top it off, travel isn’t just good for you, it’s beneficial to the economy too.  

Travel is Good for Your Heart

If you’re convinced all of that hard work you’re putting in without any vacation time is bad for your health — you’re right. According to a study performed by the U.S. Travel Association, those who set their vacations aside for years at a time are often at a higher risk of developing heart disease. A study of 12,000 middle-aged-men performed over nine years demonstrated that men who didn’t take a yearly vacation showed a 20-percent higher risk of death as well as a 30-percent greater risk of death caused by heart disease. Similarly, women who vacationed every six years (or even less often) showed a higher risk of coronary death or developing a heart attack than those who vacation twice a year or more.

Fortunately, the study also showed that the positive effects of travel are visible almost immediately. After just one or two days of vacation, 89 percent of the study’s respondents noted significant stress reduction.

Travel Can Make You Happier

The stress you relieve while on vacation actually remains at bay long after you’ve returned home. Studies show that employees who take vacations report feeling less burnt out at work, have higher productivity levels and actually show lower rates of absenteeism. That’s right — employees who take vacations actually show up for more days of work in the end.

It’s not all about productivity in the workplace though. In 2005, a study of 15,000 women showed a distinct correlation between travel and a significantly lower risk of depression.

Travel Can Help You Learn and Achieve

There’s no doubt that traveling to new places and experiencing new cultures increases knowledge and awareness, but it has now been shown that travel can actually help students learn more effectively. Studies performed by the U.S. Travel Association showed that students who traveled abroad were almost twice as likely as their non-traveling peers to complete their college degree. Even more, those who traveled reported higher incomes by more than 40 percent.

Travel Is Good for Everyone

When you book your ticket, board the plane and dip your toes in the pool, you’re not just benefiting your personal health, you’re benefiting everyone around you. Seventy-five percent of adults credit travel for improving their interpersonal relationships. And while there’s no denying that family travel provides unforgettable memories and can bring your family closer together, travel is actually linked to the reduction of behavioral problems in children.

While you’re benefiting your family, you’re benefiting those around you too. In 2013 alone, travel and tourism contributed $2.2 trillion to the world gross domestic product as well as 101 million jobs. So there are simply no excuses left. (Who needed one anyway?) It’s time to pack your bags, take that much-needed vacation and get back to good health.

About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a freelance writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves.

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