We all treasure our vacation time and look forward to that time when we can get away from work. With the arrival of summer comes the prime vacation season and along with it one more reasons to appreciate our vacation time: the value to our heart health. While there has been much anecdotal evidence about the benefits of taking a vacation from work, a new study by Syracuse University professors Bryce Hruska and Brooks Gump and other researchers reveals the benefits of a vacation for our heart health.
What we found is that people who vacation more frequently in the past 12 months have a lowered risk for metabolic syndrome and metabolic symptoms. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. If you have more of them you are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. This is important because we are actually seeing a reduction in the risk for cardiovascular disease the more vacationing a person does. Because metabolic symptoms are modifiable, it means they can change or be eliminated."
Bryce Hruska, Assistant Professor of Public Health, Syracuse University's Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics
Bottom line: A person can reduce their metabolic symptoms - and therefore their risk of cardiovascular disease - simply by going on vacation.
Hruska says that we are still learning what it is about vacations that make them beneficial for heart health, but at this point, what we do know that it is important for people to use the vacation time that is available to them. "One of the important takeaways is that vacation time is available to nearly 80 percent of full-time employees, but fewer than half utilize all the time available to them. Our research suggests that if people use more of this benefit, one that's already available to them, it would translate into a tangible health benefit."
Read more from Psychology and Health about how Vacation frequency is associated with metabolic syndrome and symptoms.
Hruska, B. et al. (2019) Vacation frequency is associated with metabolic syndrome and symptoms. Psychology and Health. doi.org/10.1080/08870446.2019.1628962