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Travel is Good for Your Health

In last week’s Living Well, I wrote about the benefit of walking on the beach, as I had recently been on vacation (it was way too short, by the way). In this week’s column, I’d like to discuss how and why travel is actually good for your health. Stacey Lastoe and Hilary Lebow, writers for

In last week’s Living Well, I wrote about the benefit of walking on the beach, as I had recently been on vacation (it was way too short, by the way). In this week’s column, I’d like to discuss how and why travel is actually good for your health.

Stacey Lastoe and Hilary Lebow, writers for the online health newsletter “Everyday Health,” recently published an article about why travel is good for your mental health. I’d like to expand upon that to include why travel is also good for your spiritual and physical health, as we all know they are connected.

In their article, Lastoe and Lebow argue that it is essential that we make time for a vacation. They even go on to back up this statement with research. With most travel restrictions having been lifted and having been cooped up for what seems like forever, people are ready to travel once again. Though the threat of COVID (and now monkeypox) is still looming, it might not actually be a bad idea to take a vacation. Research has found that not only are vacations usually fun but that they also provide benefits to our minds, bodies, and spirits. It seems that our brains are simply happier when we travel.

A 2021 study in the journal, Tourism Analysis, suggested and even quantified that when we go at least 75 miles from home, we are approximately 7% happier than when we stay home. Other studies conducted before the pandemic identified a positive correlation between travel and happiness. In Nature Neuroscience, researchers found that people who spent time in a variety of places reported more positive feelings than those who never ventured out. These reports were backed up by brain scans that revealed an increased activity in the parts of the brain that process positivity.

Travel may also lower your risk of depression. Research published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal on 1,500 women showed that those who took vacations regularly reported less stress and depression than those that didn’t. Other studies have found that taking at least ten days of paid leave decreased the likelihood of depression by up to 29% for some people.

Did you know that travel can also make you more creative? As I have mentioned previously, I am a big fan of walking on the beach when I am on vacation. What I failed to also mention is that this is when I have gotten my best ideas for books and articles. (Shameless plug: See Kettlebell Training for Athletes and Kettlebell Training for Strength and Power, both available on Amazon. I also hope to have a work of fiction coming out later this year.) Social scientists at Columbia University in New York have found a strong connection between adapting to different places and creativity. In addition, they found that travel fosters a process known as multicultural learning whereby people learn to solve problems in new ways and that it increases our awareness of our surroundings and reduces rigidity, all of which contribute to the formation of new ideas. Simply put, being away from home forces us to think differently.

Research has also found that travel has also been shown to strengthen relationships, though I will add it has probably contributed to the ending of more than a few. An article published in the December 2019 edition of the Journal of Travel Research stated that after studying 112 couples, researchers found that couples who vacation together work better as a team, and positive vacation experiences led to better daily communication and greater levels of affection.

The bottom line is that everyone needs time away from the stress and responsibilities of work, and to completely escape these worries, it is often necessary to travel away from home. This should be viewed not as an inconvenience but as an opportunity to visit some place that brings you peace, such as a favorite beach, or to explore someplace entirely new. Wherever you go and whatever you do, take time off of work. Go someplace where you can have a bit of fun and relax. Work will be there when you get back.