Discover the 9 Science-backed Ways Travel Boosts Your Health
No need to feel guilty about planning your next trip, research has shown that travel has many health benefits. From improving your immune system to reducing your risk of heart disease, the benefits of traveling give you no excuse to put off your next vacation. If you think this sounds too good to be true we’ve pulled the data from the studies so you can see for yourself.
Travel boosts your immune system
Many over the counter products promise to boost your immune system, but they can only work if the underlying mechanism is strong. Your immune system needs to be challenged with new threats to grow strong. If you stay in the same environment constantly, there is a decreased chance of new threats. Travel is one of the easiest ways to bombard your immune system with many new, and mostly harmless, targets. Keeping your immune system on its toes this way will help you maintain a healthier baseline back home.
Travel decreases stress
This may seem so obvious that you’re wondering why they needed to do a study to prove it, but it’s nice to have some numbers to back up our opinions occasionally. While it may take up to three days to start feeling the benefits of vacation in regards to reducing stress, the effect can be noticed for up to 45 days afterward. This isn’t to say that you’ll be feeling like you are on vacation a month after you get back, but that you fare better compared to your coworker who didn’t take a trip or simply took time off and stayed at home.
Improves memory and concentration
Keeping with the same daily routine makes our brains get lazy, but traveling can change that. New destinations and experiences increase cognitive stimulation which is a fancy way of saying your brain works harder. And just like working out in new ways causes your muscles to develop, working out your brain with new experiences forces it to develop. This may stave off degenerative brain disease by building resilience within the cellular structures of the brain. Pretty nice benefit just for going somewhere new.
As stated previously, the brain gets lazy with the same daily routine. This can be a major creativity killer that traveling can reverse. A study of travelers showed that being immersed in a new culture was correlated with greater creativity and professional success. The key here is to immerse in a culture different than your own. Simply traveling to an all-inclusive resort at a beautiful destination but never venturing beyond the pool bar won’t do much for sparking your creative mind, so if more than just stress reduction is your goal when traveling, make sure to venture out in search of authentic local experiences.
While it may not seem like it when you are arguing about where to eat dinner, jet-lagged and starving, the US travel survey showed that traveling as a couple not only makes relationships last longer but improves communication, intimacy, and overall satisfaction with their relationships. You don’t have to take a long trip to reap the benefits of traveling together, as 65% of couples said even a weekend getaway provided the benefits. Sharing new experiences together was cited as a key reason to travel together, but also that taking a break from the day-to-day routine was important to help couples reconnect. The study focused on romantic couples, but the benefits of traveling can also be reaped by friends and family members. Meaning you and your girls really do need to spend that weekend in Napa to reconnect.
Reduces the risk of depression
Our ability to comfortably discuss mental health issues has a long way to go, but talking about ways to reduce the risk of mental illness is a start. Studies have shown that simply planning a trip can provide an immediate mood boost and that traveling can reduce levels of depression and improve psychological functioning. Additionally, it has been shown that individuals who take at least two vacations a year have a lower incidence of depression than those who take vacation less than once a year.
Promotes heart health
We’ve all been told that our work habits are slowly killing us. Travel is one great way to mix up the routine and inherently add more physical activity to your daily life. It’s rare that you would spend 8 hours in the same location while traveling, which means you are most likely walking more, improving your cardiovascular health. Additionally, as previously mentioned, travel reduces stress which may have an effect on blood pressure, which is a key component of heart disease. It seems like taking a vacation twice a year is the most beneficial according to the studies, so start using up those PTO days to keep your heart young!
This is a benefit that occurs once you get back from vacation. Throwing yourself into a new environment, possibly a new language, pushes the limits of your comfort zone. This may be a blow to your confidence at first, as you make mistakes and adapt to the unexpected while away from home. However, all that discomfort results in learning that you can survive outside your comfort zone, which naturally increases your confidence. Because hey, if you can awkwardly ask for the check “auf Deutsch” you can certainly ask your boss for that raise you deserve.
Increases happiness and satisfaction
In a similar vein as the rest of the ways travel improves your health, stepping away from your daily routine is a simple way to boost your mood and overall feeling of fulfillment. The change in happiness starts with simply planning your trip, as we have stated previously. The knowledge that we have a trip coming up has been shown to make us think more positively about our health and economic situation, leading to a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. Once we embark on a vacation, these feelings are reinforced leading to a sustained boost in positive emotions.
Now that you know all the ways travel is good for your mental and physical well being, which one is going to be the motivating factor to get you to plan your next trip?