How vacation time affects health

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Vacation has many facets, whether on the beach, in the mountains, or unfamiliar cities. The decisive factor is the change of scenery from everyday stress and the recreational effect. The way vacation time can influence health was most recently examined in a Finnish study.

In the “Helsinki Businessmen Study,” scientists looked at, among other things, the extent to which the length of vacation can affect health. A total of 1,222 middle-aged male executives took part in the study. They had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and were followed over 40 years.

Some men received regular education for five years – regarding healthy eating, exercise, weight loss, and medication adherence. They were also motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle. The other part of the men were not supposed to change anything in their previous lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle improves cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, blood lipid levels, or body mass index (BMI) in trained men. Nevertheless, more deaths occurred in this group than in the men’s group with an unchanged lifestyle. However, this puzzle was solved by the Finnish team of scientists.

The solution to the puzzle lay in the number of weeks of vacation. A correlation was found between the length of leave and mortality. Study participants who led a healthy lifestyle but did not take more than three weeks of vacation in a year had a 37% higher mortality risk. In addition, these men worked more and slept less than those who took more extended breaks.
Accordingly, a heavy workload combined with few vacation days substantially impacts heimpactsore than an otherwise healthy lifestyle.

The study impressively illustrates how vital stress management is for health. Vacation time, in particular, offers a perfect opportunity to recover from a stressful workday—those who take more than three weeks of vacation in the entire year experience more and live longer.

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