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Do Your Health a Favor - Take a Vacation!

Do Your Health a Favor - Take a Vacation!

While summertime is vacation high season, an increasing number of Americans are simply not taking time off. In fact, according to a study conducted earlier this year by the U.S. Travel Association, more than half of American employees left vacation days unused in 2015.

Many workers fear that taking time off will jeopardize their jobs, but what they don’t realize is that they’re actually jeopardizing their well-being. That’s why ATRIO Health Plans is spreading the word that a little R&R can deliver big-time health benefits.

Downtime Decreases Heart Disease

A host of studies have highlighted the cardiovascular health benefits of taking a vacation. Consider this sampling:

  • In a New-York-based study of 13,000 middle-aged men at risk for heart disease, it was found that those who didn’t vacation for five years were 30-percent more likely to suffer heart attacks than those who took at least one week off annually. Researchers additionally noted that going without a vacation for even one year was associated with a higher risk of heart disease.
  • Mining information from the landmark Framingham Heart Study – the largest and longest-running study of cardiovascular disease – researchers determined that men who didn’t take a vacation for several years were 30 percent more likely to have heart attacks compared to men who took time off.
  • Again based on data from the Framingham Heart Study, researchers concluded that women also are negatively impacted when they don’t take time off. Specifically, they found that women who took a vacation only once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack compared to women who vacationed at least twice a year.

Other Upsides of Downtime

In addition to reducing the risk of heart disease, studies have shed light on several other health benefits associated with vacationing. These include:

  • Decreased depression – A study of 1,500 women in rural Wisconsin determined that those who took vacations twice a year or more were measurably less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired compared to women who took time off only once every two years. Similarly, the University of Pittsburgh’s Mind Body Center surveyed some 1,400 individuals and found that taking regular vacations contributed to more positive emotions and less depression. The benefits of vacationing also extended to lower blood pressure and smaller waistlines.
  • Less stress – A study published last year by the American Psychological Association found that vacations measurably reduce stress by separating people from environments and activities that serve as sources of stress. Similar findings – specifically, that vacations helped relieve job stress – resulted from a Canadian study of some 900 attorneys
  • Improved intellect – A number of studies have found a positive relationship between taking vacations and heightened intellectual functioning. Researchers attribute this outcome to the belief that a well-rested mind is a more efficient and capable mind.

On-the-Job Benefits

Taking time off not only brings a bounty of health benefits, but it also results in boosted morale and productivity. For example, according to a recent survey conducted by an online travel site, 34 percent of respondents reported feeling better about their jobs and more productive after taking a vacation.

The firm Ernst & Young conducted an internal study among its employees that found for each additional 10 hours of vacation workers took, their performance reviews were eight percent higher the following year.

Vacations – in short – spell victory for both employers and employees,

Sources

https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2014/stress-report.pdf

https://hbr.org/2012/09/more-vacation-is-the-secret-sa.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glenn-d-braunstein-md/taking-vacation_b_1688148.html

http://hum.sagepub.com/content/62/2/195.abstract

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11020089

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111887591

https://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/benefits/articles/pages/vacations-unused.aspx

http://traveltips.usatoday.com/benefits-taking-vacation-1755.html