Health

How to live longer: Is it time for a holiday? It could boost your life expectancy

If you've got some holiday days left to take this year, make the most of them. Tirelessly working for the whole year isn't doing your health any favours. In fact, a little bit of relaxation here and there could add years onto your life.

One study found that men at high risk of coronary artery disease – who failed to take annual vacations – were 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack.

In the same vein, in the longstanding Framingham Heart Study, women who seldom went on holiday were at higher risk of coronary heart disease and a heart attack.

Specifically, women who hadn't taken a holiday at least once every six years were eight times more likely to die earlier than those who vacationed twice a year.

These studies were cited by the charity AARP (American Association of Retired Persons).

Supporting these findings is research conducted by the University of Helsinki.

They tracked 1,200 businessmen in the 1970s who were considered to be at risk from heart disease.

Their risk of heart disease was due to their weight, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

After 40 years, the results were presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Munich, Germany.

Astonishingly, those who had taken less than three weeks off work every year were 37 percent more likely to die younger than those who prioritised their vacation time.

Lead researcher, Professor Timo Strandberg commented: "Don't think having an otherwise healthy lifestyle will compensate for working too hard and not taking holidays.

"Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress" – and, clearly, it can benefit your health.

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For those concerned about taking a trip abroad this year, a British staycation should still do the trick.

The key is to break from your normal routine and switch off from office duties.

It doesn't even need to be a long vacation – four days will do, according to one report.

Researchers from the Institute of Psychology, in Austria, obtained data from 40 middle managers - both men and women.

The intervention group (consisting of 20 people) spent a short vacation in a hotel outside their usual environment.

The control group (20 people) spent their vacation at home. The results indicated an interesting finding.

It suggested that a short-term vacation – independent of where – has a "large, positive and immediate effects on perceived stress, recovery, strain and well-being".

However, those who did vacation away from their homes reported greater stress reduction than those who spent their time off in their usual environment.


Regardless of where a person spent vacation, the positive effects of recovery were detected for 30 days afterwards.

The benefits on well-being could still be felt up to 45 days after the vacation finished.

The researchers concluded that "short vacations seem to be an efficient health promotion strategy".

So, if you haven't got your holidays booked in already, doing so could help you live longer.



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