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5 Scientifically-Proven Health Benefits of Travel

17 Sep 2019

For many people across the globe, traveling is associated with fun and excitement. You get to take a few days away from work or your regular routine to dive into a new culture, explore a foreign city, indulge in a variety of foods, and learn how a different community of people live. In addition to the fun and excitement of traveling, a quick vacation can also provide you with scientifically documented health benefits, especially when you head to a destination you’ve never visited before.

If you’re contemplating whether or not you should continue contributing to your travel fund to plan your next getaway, you may need a reminder about the positive effects travel has on your mind and body. Here are five scientifically-proven benefits of travel.

 

1. Travel Decreases Risk of Heart Disease

High blood pressure and the risk of heart disease are real issues for many Americans. It’s a well-known fact that a healthy diet, exercise, and positive lifestyle changes can help with this health condition. But did you know that traveling is also attributed to a decrease in the risk of heart disease? Even if you have a pre-existing condition or health risk factor, such as high blood pressure, embarking on an annual vacation to a new destination can reduce your risk of developing this dangerous condition.

A joint study from the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and the U.S. Travel Association concluded that women who vacation at least twice per year significantly lowered their risk of a heart attack when compared to those who only traveled once every six years. The same study also concluded that men who don’t take vacations at least once a year increased their risk of heart disease by 30% and their risk of death by 20%.

 

2. Travel Relieves Stress 

Lying on a beach in Maui with a fruity drink and a floppy hat is bound to melt your stress away. But the stress-relieving effects you feel from traveling don’t disappear when you head home. Studies have found that your stress levels stay low, even after you’ve unpacked. 

A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded that participants who recently traveled home from a vacation felt better rested, less anxious, and simply in a better mood three days after returning. Many of these returning travelers reported feeling more relaxed weeks after they got home, well after they were knee-deep in their everyday routines.

When you feel well-rested and less anxious, you may see your relationships and work performance improve. If you have less stress, you can approach emotional situations with a clearer head. Your refreshed attitude can also allow you to focus better at work so you can make more thoughtful decisions and increase your productivity.

 

3. Travel Promotes Physical Activity

It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut when you’re following the same routine regularly. Even if you’ve implemented exercise routine into your daily schedule, you may only be staying physically active for an hour or less each day. Travel allows you the opportunity to be active throughout the entire day, visiting local attractions, participating in fun activities, or just generally exploring. Most of the time, you probably won’t even notice that you’re working your muscles more frequently because you’re so excited to learn about your new destination. 

When you book a trip to a new place, whether it’s a beautiful resort in Maui or a quaint bed and breakfast in London, be prepared to get in a lot more steps and movement than you usually do at home. A stroll down the beach at sunset or a walk through the bustling city at night is an exhilarating way to immerse yourself in your new destination and find out more about the culture, while also getting extra exercise.

It’s important to remember that your actual travel days can be more sedentary than usual. You might have to sit on a plane, bus, or train for hours without much movement. Keep yourself energized and feeling good by eating healthy while traveling so you don’t start your vacation with low energy.

 

4. Travel Boosts Creativity

Creativity isn’t just useful if you’re a writer, artist, or musician. You can use creativity to improve your everyday life and to inform how you approach your daily routine. A boost in creativity can help you figure out how to more efficiently complete tasks at work, design or organize your home, or improve your daily schedule. 

Adam Galinsky, a researcher from Northwestern University, has been studying the link between multicultural traveling and boosts in creativity for years. He found that “multicultural experience may foster the creative expansion of ideas.” When you travel to different places and are immersed in foreign culture, you learn new concepts and ideas, some of which you may want to expand on and implement into your life at home. Essentially, traveling opens you up to new cultures and experiences, which can expand your mind and put you in the proper headspace to contemplate new ideas and creativity. 

 

5. Travel Makes You Happy

The excitement of traveling can make you happy, but so can simply talking about and planning your next trip. A study conducted by Cornell University found that discussing potential destinations, and the exciting attractions you might find once you get there, can keep your mind off of daily stresses at work or home and boost happiness. 

The more details you discuss, such as the decadent foods you want to eat, the resort amenities you’ll take advantage of, and the shops you plan to visit, the higher your happiness level. Planning for a fun trip gives you a future experience to look forward to, boosting your current mood and making your daily responsibilities easier to tackle. What are you waiting for? It’s time to get happy and pick out your next travel destination!