Travel is Good Medicine

People travel for many reasons but rarely think about the health benefits it provides.  Some trips are about fun and to see and experience new things, others are journeys of self-discovery; as Anthony Bourdain said, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”  

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Many of us think of travel as a short-lived benefit, an indulgence even, but recent studies have shown that there is much more to travel than meets the eye.  Travel is good for your mental and physical health and in short, it will help you live a longer and happier life.

Why Travel is Good for your Health

Travel is Good for Your Heart. The Framingham Heart Study found that men and women that travel annually reduce the risk of developing heart disease.  According to Forbes Travel Guide, taking a vacation can lower men’s risk of death by 21% and mortality from heart disease by 32%. Among women, a lack of vacation is associated with a higher risk of heart disease. One study by the Global Commission on Aging found that women that travel every six years or less had a significantly higher risk of developing a heart attack compared with women that vacation at least twice a year.  The bottom line is to start packing your bags!

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Travel is Good for Your Brain. Studies from the University College of London have found that travel and the new experiences associated with it help lower the risk of developing dementia.  New experiences boost cognitive health and flexibility, keeping the mind sharp. Travel also decreases depression and helps to stimulate a feeling of overall well being. A survey from Priceline found that travel is the number one mood booster for Americans.

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Travel Increases Emotional Stability & Creativity. Through the centuries artists and writers have traveled to new destinations for inspiration. Today, neuroscientists have found that neural pathways relating to how the brain is wired are affected by environment and habit, and, most importantly how they are affected by changes in the environment.  The sound of an unfamiliar language, new smells, tastes, and sights sparks different synapses in the brain that can revitalize the mind.  One study found that the more countries fashion executives lived in the more creative their fashion lines were.  Another study at the University of Southern California found that cross-cultural experiences have the potential to strengthen a person’s sense of self.

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Travel keeps you in Good Physical Condition. When we travel we are often forced to be active, much more active than we are at home.  We all want to see and experience new things when we travel so we are more likely to take a long walk or hike, go for a swim or spend more time wandering the streets than we would if we were at home. The exercise of exploring not only keeps travelers in tip-top shape, it also helps relieve stress.

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Travel Lowers Stress Levels - Many people don’t take vacations often enough and some never take them.  One study found that after just three days of vacation people were sleeping better and that they felt better overall.  It has been scientifically proven that travel decreases stress and increases a feeling of well being. The Global Commission on Aging found that after only one day of travel 89% of the respondents saw significant drops in stress.

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At the end of the day, research has shown that travel will let you live longer.  Research shows that travel reduces stress, boosts brain and heart health and keeps you in better physical condition.  All these factors add up to a longer life and to having more fun experiencing it!

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For a list of day trips, multi-day trips, national and international excursions, and cruises visit Tours of Distinction’s website.