Travel Found To Improve Happiness And Health
With many of us taking longer trips away or even working and globe-trotting full-time, there’s never been a better time to travel. And, more and more evidence points to travel being good for our health and happiness. As well as cutting stress and the risk of heart disease, travel has some surprising benefits. These range from bolstering our relationships, to helping us define who we are. Read more about this, and the other positive effects travel can have below.
Develops healthier hearts
Whether we’re rushing through an airport, heaving our luggage up the steps to our hotel, or peacefully floating in the sea, on holiday we are more active than usual. Being on the move all day is great for our hearts. In fact, science has discovered a direct link between travel and heart health. In a study published in 2000, researchers from New York University found that taking vacations reduced the risk of coronary heart disease in middle-aged men.
Do you know that feeling when you leave the plane in a new, unknown country? When you are excited about discovering a new city? Climbing to the mountain? Wandering through the national park? You may be tired, but it does not bother you at all — that is pure happiness. Do you think about work then? Does anything stressing you? No! When we combine physical activity, lack of stress and great joy, we get the perfect mix for our heart. I don’t know a better recipe for a long life than traveling.
Who would have thought travel could be good for our bones? Well, it’s not travel per se, but the Vitamin D created along the way. Most of us don’t make enough Vitamin D naturally. Whether we’re hiking, skiing, sightseeing, or relaxing on the beach, when we travel, we spend more time outdoors, and the extra burst of sun helps our bodies produce the Vitamin D we need for good bone health and to avoid osteoporosis.
It’s strange but true; traveling could boost our immunity. A UK study conducted on mice showed their immune systems responded differently depending on the environment they were in. It’s the fact of being in a different location that is key. When we’re somewhere unusual, our bodies are exposed to new kinds of bacteria and produce antibodies, which protect us from future illness. Although more research needs to be done, it’s possible that spending time in new or even exotic locations might just be good for us!
Keeps stress level to a minimum
Traveling reduces stress by taking you away — both physically and mentally — from the pressures of everyday life. Whether you’re sunbathing in Greece, exploring Paris or watching a musical on Broadway, you are distracted from your ordinary commitments and experience less anxiety. Evidence confirms this. A 2018 study found that middle-managers who travelled for their holiday were less stressed than those who stayed at home. And reducing stress has proven health benefits — from better physical and mental health to an increased lifespan!
Introduces new perspectives
A recent NBC News article notes that as well as being good for our bodies, travel can benefit our minds. In fact, it can even change our whole outlook on life. Meeting new people and learning about different cultures makes us more open-minded and tolerant. And, as we see the conditions in which other people live, we become more empathetic. A global study by travel company Momondo revealed that travelling helps us form new perspectives, and this leads to us being more open-minded and trusting.
Immersing yourself into different cultures and ideologies, broadens your brain’s scope to new more interesting and fortified ideas, be it in business, science, religion, art or music. That missing puzzle-piece you were looking for in order to open a new business or the motivation you were looking for to change your lifestyle, that is what traveling brings you. When you travel you become more creative, more alive.
Makes you less materialistic
It seems that we’re changing in quite a profound way. Recently Forbes reported that research shows that we’re much more likely to value an experience — such as a holiday — over buying and owning a product. In other words, you can’t put a price on great memories. In 2017, San Francisco University published research showing that people believe life experiences — such as travel — are much more valuable than ‘things’. Since then, many other studies have found similar results, so much so that it’s even been labelled a trend to reject material possessions and aspire to have nothing.
Decreases risk of depression
According to research by the Wisconsin Medical Journal, women who took a vacation every year were less likely to suffer from depression than those who took a vacation every few years. This isn’t surprising, as sunlight, exercise and pleasurable experiences all increase our serotonin levels which can improve our mood. In fact, according to one study, merely thinking about a holiday you have planned can result in feeling happier. Plus, the activities we tend to do on holiday are proven mood enhancers — from getting more sleep and exercise to meeting new people and creating happy memories.
Builds stronger relationships
Apart from the inevitable arguments over who reads the map or gets the bigger bed, research indicates that when we travel with friends or family, we deepen our relationships with them. As we try new things and share moments along the way, we experience greater closeness. According to research by the US Travel Association, this could even help prevent divorce in the future. The study found that 84 per cent of couples who travelled together had better communication, and their relationships lasted longer.