Vacations have so many wonderful benefits but did you know that taking a vacation could literally add years to your life?
Honestly, I never really considered this until recently when I came across an article titled “How many vacation days do you need to increase longevity?”
As luck would have it, I was in the throws of planning my own vacation so naturally I was curious to know “was my vacation going to help me live longer?”
As I scrolled through the article, I discovered that the theory behind vacations and longevity stems from a study done by the European Society of Cardiology. The researchers set out to see what effect a healthy lifestyle had on the long-term risk of developing heart disease.
The study consisted of two groups of men – one group received guidance and assistance on diet, exercise and quitting smoking. The other group, which was the control group, did not receive any intervention at all.
After 5 years, the group that received intervention had reduced their risk of heart disease by 46% – no surprise there. However, what did seem surprising was after 15 years, more men in this group had died.
The researchers concluded that the men in the intervention group had been taking less than three weeks of vacation each year and, as a result, this had increased their risk of dying by 37%.
In other words, a healthy lifestyle cannot compensate for the stress of working too much.
This really hit home for me. Although I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I will be the first to admit that I don’t take enough time off. I find myself using the excuse that I’m self employed and don’t have paid vacations but, honestly, even when I had a job where I got paid time off, I rarely took advantage of that perk.
Sadly, I am not alone in this – more than half of Americans do not use all of their vacation days which might explain why the United States has earned the somewhat embarrassing title of “no vacation nation.”
I’ve known for a while that I need (and want) to take more vacations so I decided that this year I’m finally doing it. In fact, I just returned from a two week road trip to the historic town of Redstone, Colorado and I think I feel younger already!
This vacation was exactly what I needed to recharge my batteries and convince me that I no longer want to be part of the “no vacation nation.”
While I was in Redstone, I stayed in a cute apartment on the Crystal River and spent my days reading, riding my bike and watching the river float by.
(Be sure to check out the photo below – this was the view from my back door.)
This trip really sparked something in me and I’m so excited about vacations right now that I’m already planning another one for this year – gotta get those three weeks in!
How about you? Have you started planning your next great adventure?
If the idea of taking a two week vacation feels a little overwhelming to you, start by adding a couple extra days to your weekend. Once you feel more confident in taking time off, I’m certain you’ll be ready to start planning your next big trip.
Now I know that the way in which we spend our vacation time may look different this year, but there are still many ways to have a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation. The key is to take a break from work and your daily activities so that you have an opportunity to recharge your mind, your body and ultimately add years to your life.
It is so rare that we have the opportunity to live just for ourselves and taking a trip can let you do just that.
So if you’re thinking of skipping that vacation, think again and ask yourself, “if not now, when?”
Bon voyage and safe travels!