Do vacations make you healthier?

vacationing pooch dog in sunglasses lei and flipflopsTaking a vacation can improve sleep, reduce blood pressure and even help weight loss—with the health benefits being felt for at least two weeks after the holiday and sometimes even months later, a study shows.

The Holiday Health Report 2013, conducted by Swiss tourism company Kuoni Travel and Nuffield Health, one of the largest health charities in the United Kingdom, studied 12 people in the summer of 2012 through health assessments and heart monitors. Half of the volunteers went on vacation, while the other half stayed home and worked.

Tests showed that the blood pressure of vacationgoers dropped by 6%, compared with workers whose blood pressure rose by 2%. Sleep quality improved by 17% in vacationers, while it deteriorated by 14% in those who stayed home. The ability to recover from stress increased by 29% in those who took a holiday while stress resilience fell by 71% in workers.

Other health benefits of vacationing were a decrease in blood glucose levels, reduced risk of diabetes, trimmer waistlines, enhanced mood and better energy levels.

“This study shows that holidays not only feel good, but that they actually help us to be healthier,” psychotherapist Christine Webber says.

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