Medical benefits of holidays revealed for first time showing how holidays can help us live longer
Thursday 31, January 2013
The positive impact of holidays on health has been measured in a ground-breaking study published today.
The Holiday Health Experiment was conducted by tour operator Kuoni and Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity between summer and autumn 2012, revealing how holidays can help us live longer. The results are published today in The Holiday Health Report.
The study, the first of its kind, set out to establish whether the much-discussed ‘feel good factor’ generated by vacations is based on physical and psychological fact.
Participants were divided into a travel group and a non-travel group and all had stress-resilience testing and a 360+ Health Assessment by Nuffield Health. This was carried out alongside psychotherapeutic tests conducted by psychotherapist Christine Webber.
The Holiday Health Experiment found that those who took part benefited from lower blood pressure, improved sleep quality and improved stress management – with the effects continuing for at least two weeks after returning home.
Highlights of the findings:
Dr Lucy Goundry Nuffield Health, Medical Director, Wellbeing said: “For the first time, our clinical results show how holidays helped these couples reduce their blood pressure, improve their sleep and manage their stress levels better.
“These results clearly demonstrate that on holiday our resilience to stress (our ability to physically cope with stress) improves. Becoming more resilient to stress is hugely important as most of us will return back to stress when our holiday ends but being more resilient to it helps lay the foundations for improved productivity at work, better energy levels and ultimately happiness.
“As many as a third of workers do not take their full holiday entitlement each year - I urge everyone to ensure they plan their holidays carefully, working hard is important but so is taking time to rest and recuperate.”
The Holiday Health Experiment also found:
The 12 participants in the experiment were divided into two groups.
Both groups underwent a 360+ health assessment, wore heart monitors to measure their sleep patterns and resilience to stress, had psychotherapeutic tests and were given dietary and lifestyle advice in summer 2012.
Six participants in one group were then sent on a holiday for two weeks to Thailand, Peru or the Maldives. The other six people stayed at home and continued working.
In September 2012, all participants underwent a second array of clinical and psychological tests and wore heart monitors for 72 hours.
Psychotherapist Christine Webber said: “The Holiday Health Experiment has shown me more clearly than ever before just how much our mental health can improve when we get away on holiday. It’s apparent from our results that the majority of people feel happier, more rested and much less stressed because of their vacations. But, even more importantly, I have discovered that these benefits continue well past the vacation – in fact, for months afterwards.
“I have seen some of our participants make real changes to their everyday lives as a result of their holidays. I have noticed how couples grow closer together. I have witnessed how going somewhere exotic and different can not only alter people’s perspectives on the world, but can also help to increase levels of confidence and happiness in their own individual lives. I have also noted with interest that you don’t need to lie on a beach to relax. In the experiment, the couple who went on the busiest holiday had the most long-lasting reduction in stress.
“All in all, I think the Holiday Health Experiment has shown us that there are quantifiable health benefits to taking breaks away - and that we may just have scratched the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the long-term benefits of holidays may be.”
Derek Jones, Kuoni managing director said: “This study backs up with evidence the long-held belief that holidays are good for our health. I hope people will acknowledge not only a boost to their productivity, but to their longevity from taking full annual leave, preferably peppered throughout the year. Saying you’re too busy to take your full entitlement could be counterproductive. Regular holidays can be counted as preventive medicine.”
For the full report please click here
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