It’s official: travel is good for your health

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Everyone who loves travel agrees on one thing: travelling makes you feel good. But what you may not know is that it not only makes you feel good — travel is good for your health.

There’s no doubt you feel better when you leave behind the worries of daily life for a week on the beach in Panama, or spend a few days exploring the fairy tale city of Copenhagen. And when you return home, the warm afterglow can last for days — or even weeks.

But according to a report by the U.S. Travel Association (you can find a summary here), the benefits of travel run far deeper than we know: it has real and wide-ranging effects on both your physical and mental health. And while the effects are potent for every age group, a study by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (see here) shows some are especially relevant to baby boomers.

Here are a few of the amazing health benefits of travel:

Lower stress

A holiday of even one or two days can make your blood pressure, heart rate and levels of the stress hormone epinephrine go down.

Protection from heart attacks

Taking an annual vacation can cut your risk of a heart attack by as much as 50 percent. In one study, even middle-aged men at high risk for heart disease were 32 percent less likely to die of it.

Better mental attitude

Just the anticipation of a trip can generate more positive feelings about your life, your family, your financial situation and your health.

Better work performance

The reduced stress from travelling can make you more creative and improve your performance on the job. The improvement is most marked among those over 45: in one study, they scored 50 percent better on vigilance tests.

Better mental health

Patients at a U.S. veterans’ hospital who had been isolated and withdrawn were able to hold conversations after they took a trip, and seemed less depressed.

Less chance of Alzheimer’s disease

The mental stimulation of planning a trip and travelling has been shown to improve brain function, and can decrease your chance of developing degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Better sleep

Travellers in one study got three times more deep sleep following a vacation, and almost 20 minutes more sleep per night.

Better sex life

Four out of 10 travellers said they felt more romantic when on vacation, and three out of 10 said they had sex more often.

All these findings are supported by scientific research. But if you travel regularly, you don’t need any proof that travel is good for your health: it has magical powers to broaden your outlook, lift your mood and refill your tank. So wherever you go — travel in good health.

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About Author

Paul Marshman is a retired journalist who spent 30 years as a writer and editor on Canadian newspapers, while travelling to the ends of the earth. Now he continues to travel while passing on his travel experiences to you.

19 Comments

    • Sounds like you need to take a trip, Deia ;). There was a lot of good stuff in those studies. I may do something on the financial side of travelling, which they also dealt with. But I’ll check Nomad Wallet for tips.

  1. dennis francz on

    Wow , that is definitely close to the whole truth. I have been doing a lot of cross country travelling lately and the only time I start to feel down is when I need to return home. Hmm maybe I need a permanent vacation?

    • Ha ha, a permanent vacation may be the cure for what ails us, Dennis. But it’s true — especially as we get older, boredom can be the biggest enemy. Travel keeps us active and interested, and that’s a great tonic.

  2. Hi Dennis, a little confused about the last “advantage” regarding a better sex life. This statistic means that 7 out of 10 had less sex and 6 out of 10 felt less romantic, yikes!
    Tim recently posted…Wonders of the WorldMy Profile

    • Thanks, Suzanne. Hope you enjoy some of the other content on the site. Your blog looks great — I look forward to your future travels.

  3. Great to see some evidence of what I always thought was true! I would also add that decreased healthcare costs in other areas is a benefit of travel too. I’ve gotten medical care that I wouldn’t have in the U.S. because of the costs. I’ve always felt in good hands when getting medical care in Costa Rica!
    Jodie recently posted…10 Awesome Travel Accessories Under $10My Profile

    • Thanks, Adrienne, it all makes sense to me. I may need your airplane tips on my upcoming trip to China: the flights are 17 or 18 hours long — ouch!

  4. Nice post. My wife and I gave up our house and sold all our possessions about a year ago and have been traveling as international nomads since then. We find travel, especially slow travel to be so enriching and relaxing. Of course, adventures are what life is about and we have enjoyed every minute of them. And, since we use our house sitting skills to stay in wonderful homes for next to nothing, it’s affordable too!

    • Thanks for the comment, Neil. I know a lot of people are sold on house sitting as a way to travel the world on a budget. One of these days I’ll try it.

  5. HI Paul. love you list. I wish my company would see the Better Work Performance section and give me every other month off, lol. Oh well, I can dream. Thanks for a great and informative post.

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