Chances are, you need a vacation.
Frequent travel is known to offer several benefits. Yet in one year, Americans neglected nearly 800 million paid vacation days, choosing business over pleasure.
If you haven’t been on a faraway trip lately, where you can unplug and take in fresh sights and experiences, you’re likely overdue. And as a result, your physical and mental health might be suffering the consequences.
If you’re not yet convinced that it’s time to block off your schedule and purchase flight tickets for your dream vacation, read on for five of the top health benefits of traveling.
1. Higher Activity Levels
Many people these days live a relatively sedentary life, sitting behind a desk and staring at screens for hours. But living (and working) this way can actually be extremely unhealthy.
Spending time moving around is beneficial for the entire body. Even gentle walking can raise the heart rate, improve digestion, and help to shed excess weight, among countless other health benefits.
Taking a vacation naturally encourages greater activity. Whether sightseeing or running to catch the train, there are more opportunities to get up and get moving.
And even for those who aren’t as mobile, there are a variety of destinations to choose from. For example, some cities may require thousands of steps in walking each day to get around, while others offer plenty of comfortable and affordable public transportation. Choose a location that matches your abilities, and challenge yourself to move just a bit more than you do on non-travel days.
2. Boosted Immunity
When people think of traveling to an exotic or foreign locale, they may imagine needing vaccinations to protect them against harmful diseases. And while this may, at first, scare some off from traveling, it’s important to note that exposing the body to new environments can actually boost the immune system over time.
Similar to when we’re children, exploring new places means strengthening our immunity. That’s why, when children first go to school or play at a new playground, they may come in contact with illnesses they haven’t before.
Traveling is similar. It might sound, well, icky at first, but everything from the surfaces of the plane to the water used to wash the hotel’s breakfast fruit platter contain bacteria and viruses that may be new to your body.
In some cases, this can lead to getting sick. But over time, the body increases its defenses against these pathogens. Then, you’ll be stronger the next time you travel.
3. Better Brain Functioning
When many people travel, especially to a destination unlike their hometown, they report feeling inspired by the fresh experiences they have. It’s no surprise, then, that one of the top traveling benefits for health is better brain functioning.
Some studies have explored how the brain forms new connections during travel. This can then spark creativity and greater cognitive flexibility, making travelers better at problem-solving and personal growth.
If you’re feeling a little rusty when thinking on your toes at work lately, or if you just need a jolt of artistic inspiration, book your next trip ASAP. Ideally, choose a culture that is new and much different from the one you currently live in. Then on your trip, find ways to immerse yourself in that culture, such as taking a cooking class or socializing with locals.
4. Healthier Heart
Heart disease is one of the biggest killers across the world. But thankfully, there are ways to prevent and manage it before it’s too late.
One of those ways might just be taking a vacation. Studies have shown that people who travel each year are less likely to have a heart attack or develop heart disease. There’s also evidence that travel may ward off metabolic syndrome, which includes heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
For those who already struggle with their heart health, there are some precautions that should be taken when traveling, though. The American Heart Association recommends getting any needed prescriptions filled first, before taking off. It’s also smart to locate a trusted cardiologist in your destination, just in case of an emergency. Finally, be sure to walk around when possible on long flights to avoid blood clots.
5. Lower Stress Levels
Planning a trip may be stressful for some, but it typically pays off in the form of less stress later. In fact, lower stress is one of the biggest reasons to travel for many. And it can also be a powerful benefit for your physical and mental health.
Chronic stress is linked to a plethora of illnesses and conditions, from depression to obesity. Breaking patterns of stress can lead to a greater sense of well-being and improved health outcomes.
To fully reap the benefits, it helps to incorporate some relaxation into your travel plans. Book a massage or spend time meditating on the beach to fully unwind.
And skip any hotel that puts you off. The last thing you need is to feel stressed about where you lay your head down after a long day of sightseeing. Find a relaxing accommodation, such as the listings at https://resales.dvcshop.com/.
Feel the Health Benefits of Traveling
If your physical or mental health could use a boost, it might be time to plan a getaway. There are several health benefits of traveling, from staying active to lowering your stress levels. Tell your boss you’ll be out-of-office – your body and mind will thank you!
For more vacation tips and inspiration, check out our other travel articles!
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