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Why Travel is Good for Your Health

Everyone needs time to decompress, but there are more health benefits of travel than just getting away from it all. And there is good news for those of us who don’t have a lot of money to spend or time off of work: you don’t have to go far away to reap these benefits. A day-trip or weekend away can help you recharge.

Here are a few reasons why exploring new places is good for you:

Taking time away makes you happier and reduces stress

This one is obvious, but vacationing improves your mood, reduces stress and can even boost productivity.

  • 93% of people feel happier after a vacation, and
  • 80% believe vacations result in greater productivity, energy and focus.

The exception is, of course, if your vacations are stressful. This can happen for a number of reasons – if flights are delayed or you get caught in bad traffic, or maybe you don’t like where you’re going, what you’re doing or the people you’re traveling with. Vacations are great, but they’re not magic.

Travel helps your heart

Men and women who travel every year are less likely to suffer a heart attack or develop heart disease.

  • Women who vacation less than twice a decade have a higher risk of heart attack than those who vacation twice a year.
  • Men who don’t take annual vacations have a roughly
    • 20% higher risk of death overall, and a
    • 30% higher risk of death by heart disease.

This may be because people who travel are less stressed or, at the very least, they’re willing to take a break from their stressors. 

52% of Americans have unused vacation days

Trips are good for women

Women who travel often are less likely to become tense, depressed or tired. They’re also happier with their marriages.

Travelers are more satisfied with their well-being

People who travel are more satisfied with their outlook on life than those who don’t. According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people who travel or study abroad are also generally more open and emotionally stable. Cross-cultural experiences have also been shown to strengthen your sense of self because they foster engagement with new people and experiences.

Travel can improve your physical health

Travel is about trying new things, and often those things naturally include becoming more physically active. Whether you’re walking around a new city, swimming in a lake or even just getting on and off a train, you’re more likely to be “out and about” on vacation than you are when you’re sitting at your desk all day.

77% of people believe that their health improves after a vacation

Travel makes you more creative

Vacationing can increase creativity, and traveling abroad is particularly powerful when it comes to stretching your brain’s capabilities. Creativity is related to neuroplasticity, or your brain’s ability to change over time, and that’s influenced by your environment. The more you’re exposed to new sounds, smells, tastes, and experiences, the better your brain gets at jumping between different ideas. For this to work when you’re abroad, however, you can’t just be somewhere — you have to immerse yourself in the new place in order to engage, adapt and stretch your brain’s abilities.

Travel keeps you healthy as you age

A U.S. Travel Association poll showed that retirees who travel have a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and doing new things can improve the health of our brains as we age.

Travel works fast

The benefits of travel are almost immediate. After just 2 days, 89% of people report significant drops in stress. However, the benefits do fade, so you’ll need to make travel part of your regular routine. Which leads us to our last fact:

Planning a trip is good for you

Think about saving up to buy something versus saving up for a trip. Which makes you happier? According to research, the anticipation of taking a vacation is much greater than the anticipation of buying something. Furthermore, money spent on doing (experiential purchases) rather than having (material purchases) provides more long-term happiness, and people report that even the waiting is more pleasurable. Studies also find that people are happiest when they know they have a trip on the horizon.

So the only question now is: Where are you going to go?

Ashley Brantley

Ashley Brantley has been writing about food, culture and health for more than a decade, and has lived in three of Tennessee’s four major cities (Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville).

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Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.

WellTuned provides inspiration and practical advice for healthy living.
WellTuned does not offer medical advice. Any personal health questions should be addressed to your doctor.

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