Published on October 31st, 2017 | by Crissandra Ayroso0
The Health Benefits of Travel
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published March 2016 and updated with the Mental Health Benefits of Travel.
We all have our reasons for why we travel. New experiences, significant milestones, to explore our backyard. Ultimately, many of us do it to satisfy one need or another with our love for travel. It’s a pretty deep feeling. But did you know that there are scientifically measurable results that prove that there are health benefits associated with travelling, too? If you need a few more reasons to book that trip you’ve always been dreaming of, keep reading below:
Travel decreases the chance of heart disease
Chasing your wanderlust is good for the heart.
In the largest and longest-running study of cardiovascular disease, the Framingham Heart Study revealed that those who did not vacation regularly were more at risk of heart attack or disease. Men who did not vacation for several years were actually 30 per cent more likely to suffer a heart attack compared to men who did not take time off. Women who vacationed only once every six years or less were also eight times more likely to develop or suffer from a heart attack or disease compared to women who vacationed at least twice a year.
Another study, sponsored by the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, followed a trial of 12,000 men over a nine-year period that had a high risk of coronary heart disease. The results showed that the men who took vacation were 32 per cent less likely to suffer from heart disease.
Travel promotes healthy aging
Travel aids the process of healthy aging.
By challenging the brain with new and different experiences and environments, travel becomes an important behaviour that helps promote brain health and resilience throughout life, the Brain Health Center, Inc. revealed to us in a study.
Another study by the Global Coalition on Aging also revealed that healthy social habits, as well as the physical and mental activities associated with travel, have been proven to have positive benefits on the mental health of older adults.
Travel reduces stress and depression
Taking that trip you’ve always dreamt about is scientifically proven to be good for your mental health.
Taking vacation leave treats depression and causes positive emotional levels, the University of Pittsburgh’s Mind Body Center determined in a study. Similar results were revealed in a Marshfield Clinic study of over 1,500 women in rural Wisconsin: those who vacationed less than once every two years were more vulnerable to suffer from depression and stress compared to women who vacationed at least twice a year.
Canadian researchers also determined in a study of 900 lawyers, vacations worked to alleviate job stress by removing people from the activities and environments that tend to be the source of it. The Mind Body Center study also revealed that leisure activities, which included taking vacations, also lowers blood pressure and decreases waistlines.
Mental Health Benefits of Travel
Travel is good for the heart. Not only does exploring the world around us bring us physical health benefits, but studies show us that there are even more benefits that extend to our mental health. If you ever needed a reason to travel, here are three of them that prove travel is good for the mind, body, and soul.
Travel Strengthens Your Sense of Self
Meeting people with different backgrounds and new environments humbly allow us to develop an individual stronger sense of self. New cultural experiences either influence or confirm our own beliefs and values systems allowing us to grow and mature, according to a study on how travel boosts mental health. New cultures and environments present us with opportunities to practice and develop mindfulness.
Travel Enhances Creativity
Travellers who immerse themselves in new cultures and identify with new habits are more creative in the long run, a study shows. The exposure to new surroundings, experiences and cultures stimulates the senses, boosting creativity. The study proves that professionals who move abroad receive a significant boost in creativity due to the cultural distance (on the flipside, the study also shows that professionals who are exposed to an intimidatingly different environment do not receive the benefit of a boost in creativity.)
Anticipating Travel Boosts Happiness
Happiness begins from the first moment you book your trip! In a study on the impact of anticipating travel, researchers collected data on two groups of people – one group anticipating a trip and the other group which did not. The research showed that the vacation-going group was happier – in anticipation of travelling plus overall happier with their family, economic situation and health compared to the non-vacation going group.
While anticipating travel boosts happiness, another study by Cornell University shows that money spent on experiences (rather than possessions) provides longer lasting happiness in comparison to the short-lived thrill of a material purchase.