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Patients at a U.S. veterans’ hospital who had been isolated and withdrawn were able to hold conversations after they took a trip, and seemed less depressed.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