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Want To Take A Vacation? Study Shows It May Improve Your Heart Health

Caroline Muggia
mbg Contributor
By Caroline Muggia
mbg Contributor
Caroline Muggia is a writer, environmental advocate, and registered yoga teacher (E-RYT) with a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College.
Image by BONNINSTUDIO / Stocksy
June 21, 2019

We all love time to relax, unwind, and get some perspective on things, but how often are we taking the time to do this? A report by the U.S. Travel Association in 2018 showed that 52% of American employees do not use all of the vacation days offered to them at their job. While it may seem like taking a vacation is just a luxury that we should put off until next year, a new study found that taking time off could actually improve our health.

The researchers from Syracuse University found that people who took more vacation time in the past year had a lower number of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. These risk factors may include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, body fat around the waist, and high cholesterol, all of which can contribute to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

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The study found that the more vacation people took, the lower the risk of cardiovascular disease via a reduction in these contributing risk factors. "One of the important take-aways is that vacation time is available to nearly 80% of full-time employees, but fewer than half utilize all the time available to them," said Bryce Hruska, professor at Syracuse University and researcher on the study, in a statement.

It's essential to point out that taking a vacation in the traditional sense (going somewhere and staying for a few days) is expensive and not possible for everyone. In light of this, the study pointed out that more research is needed to understand what it is about a vacation that contributes to better heart health and to determine if there is another way to get these benefits.

For many of us, a vacation is a time to put down the phone and spend some time doing things we enjoy. This space to just be may help calm anxious thoughts and lower stress. Fortunately, you don't always have to go far to experience a sense of calm. In fact, a restful staycation (a vacation in your own backyard) could also do the trick.

Some ways you can make your weekend or day off feel like a vacation is to try putting your phone away, pick a new restaurant in town, create a spa-like environment in your home, or do something you've always wanted to do. Although you won't be on a beach in the Bahamas, small changes to give your mind a break and the opportunity to do something different will offer a change of pace from your usual busy schedule.

Now that summer is here, think about the ways you can make time for a vacation whether you're headed out of town or sticking around. As far as we're concerned, it's all about the mindset, and we're looking forward to checking out mentally for a bit.

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Caroline Muggia
Caroline Muggia
mbg Contributor

Caroline Muggia has a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College. She received her E-RYT with Yoga Works and is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. A writer and environmental advocate, she is passionate about helping people live healthier and more sustainable lives. You can usually find her drinking matcha or spending time by the ocean.