Everyone loves to take a vacation, and hopefully you don’t need to be persuaded to take yours and travel the world! The current trend is that many people in the States do not take their full annual leave allowance from work. Did you know that world travel can actually have some incredible health benefits? You read right! Travel can actually be good for you.
So stop making excuses! Traveling should be a priority – start planning your trip as soon as possible!
The risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease steadily increases as we grow older.
After the age of 65, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease doubles approximately every five years. It is estimated that dementia affects one in 14 people over the age of 65 and one in six over the age of 80 ~ Alzheimer’s.org
But according to the Global Coalition on Aging and the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, this can be halted in it’s tracks by keeping our minds engaged through travel. They have put together this white paper which details the connection between a healthy older age and mentally active, travellers.
It claims that the benefits of travel are both mental and physical, due to “physical activity, cognitive stimulation and social engagement.”
It explores published studies which have suggested that women who vacation twice a year have a significantly reduced chance of heart attacks or coronary death. While on the other hand, “men who did not take an annual vacation were shown to have a 20 percent higher risk of death and about a 30 percent greater risk of death from heart disease.”
Paul Nussbaum, a clinical neuropsychologist and professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh supports the view that travel may help to prevent dementia.
“When you expose your brain to an environment that’s novel and complex or new and difficult, the brain literally reacts. Your brain literally begins to look like a jungle.” ~ Nussbaum.
The first point leads very nicely into this one. No matter what our age, we can benefit from plonking ourselves into new and unusual surroundings. The result is exhilarating, a little be daunting sometimes, but there are constant new brain connections being made while we figure out our surroundings.
There is so much to take in, new cultures, sounds, cuisines, history, music, language and even unusual smells. The senses are busy figuring everything out as you potter around. Travel can provide numerous chances to experience something fresh without even trying.
Some studies have also pointed to the fact that those who travel often have greater self confidence, which can be a great foundation for further education and eventually career growth.
This makes sense, as visiting the world is a rich a source of education that is unlike anything that can be taught in a textbook. Geography, history, sociology and much more can be understood deeply when you find yourself immersed in the reality of the subject.
Going on vacation is fun! It should be a chance to take a step back from work, and normality and instead focus completely on doing something that you want to do. That may be relaxing by the beach in Bali, climbing a mountain in Switzerland, visiting museums in Germany or painting pictures in Italy. It doesn’t matter where you go, the point is, you are spending time feeding your soul and that should inevitably bring some feel good feelings.
Travel can reduce your stress levels….well, as long as you don’t lose your passport!
Time away from the office, the leaking fridge and the nosy neighbour should bring a well needed break and a chance to relax! Unsurprisingly, studies have concluded that travel does in fact reduce stress, and even keep stress levels down for a while when we return home. Time away from everyday stressors has a positive impact on our hormones, with levels of cortisone stabilising as we chill out.
The result is reduced office absenteeism, increased productivity and a happier outlook when you get back to work. Now, that is a bonus for you and your boss!
Exploring the world, far from your clinical daily life means you may often get your hands dirty. This increases your exposure to the flora and fauna of the bacterial world, and a host of new minuscule germs that you may not have encountered.
Believe it or not this can actually be great for you! We have written about the benefits of getting muddy right here.
One thing I would mention however is the importance of drinking clean water. Don’t test out your immunity by glugging anything you are unsure about.
Travel can bring back the romance!
Ahh…..yes you can of course make memories with your little ones and family and friends too, but we are talking about your significant other here.
Travel has the ability to bring couples close together, thanks to the act of creating and experiencing life long memories together. Relationships can grow robust through taking the time to travel alone as a couple, with communication in particular being an area that is improved.
“What we’ve long known anecdotally, we’re now proving through authoritative research: travel has a positive effect on relationships. Couples who travel together have healthier, happier relationships compared to those who do not travel together. This Valentine’s Day, couples should strengthen their relationships in a meaningful way and take a trip together.” ~ Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association
The U.S. Travel Association launched a campaign called “Travel Effect” which analysed the benefits of travelling as a couple. Their results included these heartwarming figures correlated from a telephone survey of 1,100 adults by Edge Research.
“Couples who take time to vacation alone together at least once each year report happier, healthier relationships overall compared to those who do not travel as couples,” ~ Pam Loeb, principal of Edge Research
It may be a good time to remind you of all of the health benefits of having sex. Strengthening your immune system, improving bladder control, lowering blood pressure to name a few.
Research conducted into this area found that out of 750 women measured, those who took a vacation at least twice per year were at a significantly reduced risk of suffering a heart attack or coronary death, this is when compared to women who took a vacation every six years or less.
Conversely, a nine-year study of 12,000 middle-aged men found that those who took at least one vacation per year were 30 per cent less likely to die from heart disease than those who did not travel.
It could be said to be linked to class variants, with those more affluent individuals having access to better food and health care being the ones who can afford to vacation more frequently.
A 2005 study made a connection between travel and a lower risk of developing depression, using a sample of 15,000 women.
It can be easy to be active on holiday…and that is because exercise is easily designed as fun. You can go mountain climbing, explore a town (which results in hours of walking), swim in the ocean, hire a bike and so much more.
Following on from point 9, travel can give you plenty of opportunities to get out and about. You can get in touch with nature and soak up some rays (although, not if you go to London perhaps).
Being outside will give you a real boost of vitamin D that you may have been lacking in your 9-5! Vitamin D is great for reducing depression, controlling high blood pressure and even preventing heart attacks and cancer.
As well as the physical benefits you can also boost your mental health by getting outside.
Okay, it may seem like a cliche, but seriously, traveling can give you pause for thought. A chance to really open your eyes and develop your character. You might find something out about yourself that you hadn’t noticed before.
You may return a whole new person – as long as you are open to it!
While you are on the road, searching for a hidden cavern or following the trail of an ancient King, you are more likely to meet other people with those same crazy quirks! This is how meaningful relationships are built.
It is healthy to inject some fresh blood into your circle of friends now and again, to keep your perspective in check.
Travelling can sometimes provide an opportunity to accomplish something challenging. The feeling of satisfaction from crossing a gorge, or hiking a mountain can leave you with a warm feeling of pride in your abilities.
This can leak over into your everyday life, where you may be more inclined to set goals for yourself and push harder than you may have before.
You may find that you come up against language barriers while you are traveling. As well as the opportunity to learn a new language, you will be forced to work on your other forms of communication. Being immersed in a new language is a great way to learn. You may be surprised at what you pick up.
You can avoid one of the biggest regrets that are reported from those on their death bed, by living your life to its fullest while you still can. Remember, that none of us have an infinite lifespan. What is it that you most dream of doing? What do you want to look back on?
For the vast majority of us that is memories of travel. Those unforgettable trips you took, moments you experienced, foods you tasted and more. Really live while you are alive! Discover as much of this wonderful planet as you possibly can.
Travel can be the perfect way to fill gaps between your transitional periods of life. Maybe you have been laid off at work, or the kids have flown the nest, your marriage has broken down. All of these life stages require closure before you can move onto the next phase, and sometimes travel can be the perfect way to achieve that.
It can distract you, help you to reassess things that are important to you and allow you to move forward more effectively than if you simply put in your normal daily grind.
Hopefully this post has inspired you to get your travel on! But it is prudent to remember that while enjoying the health benefits, you take precautions to look after yourself.
That means checking with your health professional before embarking on any strenuous activities if you are not used to such things. Also be sure that you are up to date on all of the vaccinations that may be required for any countries you are visiting.
Do your research on diseases, including insect-horned and water related. Be prepared, take out medical insurance if necessary and be sure of what is covered.
Also make sure you are well equipped, with clothing and shoes to suit the climate, sun screen and anything else you may need. Be wise when stepping into the ocean or any other wild habitat.
As long as you undertake sensible pre-trip planning and preventative measures, you can enjoy all of these wonderful benefits to your health and wellbeing, physically and mentally.
I have been bitten by the travel but for sure! What do you think?
Are you an avid traveller? Or does it all sound like hard work to you?
We would love to hear from you.
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