Sunshine is more health-giving than pills and potions. Travel in foreign lands is a mental tonic, which feeds the mind even if at times empties the pocket, said Alec Tweedie. The thought definitely couldn’t be truer.
In this day and age of constant busyness, it is very important to take care of your health, mind and body. It’s important to take some rejuvenating time-out for yourself just to get off the grid of mundaneness for a while. What if we tell you that it is possible to kill these two birds with one stone? Just pack your bags and be off for a vacation or two
Yes, you heard that right. You will have relaxation, the fun of a journey plus the added benefit of good health just by taking that tour which has long been on your mind. How you ask, read on to know for yourself! Bon Voyage!
Real health benefits of travelling
Improves your immunity
Time and again research has proved that immunity (especially adaptive immunity) has much more to do with non-inheritable influences -such as environmental exposure than with genetics. When you travel or visit new places, you naturally give more chance to your body to interact with different foreign particles, novel food, climates, and environmental flora and fauna.
This exposes the immune system to different antigens, and your body stocks up antibodies (or proteins that fight against foreign bodies) better protecting you from the illnesses they can cause in future.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can be careless or lax with basic hygiene and sanitation precautions.
Lessens the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Most of the times, narrowed or blocked blood vessels, unsustainable lifestyle choices, and unhealthy diets cause cardiovascular diseases. However, stress is often a major risk factor for heart diseases.
Stress leads to increased blood pressures and blood-sugar levels (owing to the increased concentration of stress hormone cortisol). That gradually weakens the circulatory system in the long run.
To quote statistics, taking vacations can lower men’s risk of death by 21 percent. It can lower mortality from cardiovascular disease by 32 percent. Among women, a lack of vacation is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and death from heart disease.
Travelling helps you get new experiences and staves off stress, giving you a little break to rejuvenate. Also, you are naturally more on the move engaging in different physical tasks (than if you’re sitting at the office desk). That’s an indirect benefit keeping your heart strong.
Weight loss boost
Whatever trip you decide to take, it is unlikely that you will spend the majority of your time lounging around in the hotel room. Travelling generally involves a myriad of activities such as sightseeing, adventure sports, and walking tours.
It can thus give you a good boost for getting started on those weight loss goals. According to one study done on obese folks, merely visiting a high-altitude location without exercising led to weight loss in just one week.
While the results may vary according to individuals, activities involved and may be short term, it is definitely worth a try. What have you got to lose except maybe some pounds?
Improving muscle health
Human bodies naturally are not designed for long periods of inactivity/sitting. The modern-day tasks- be it office work, the convenience of transportation, digital world with an overall life of comfort & ease all stand testimony to this and practically provide us with no room to overcome the impediment. In such a scenario, ‘travel’ can serve to be the way out.
When you travel, you tend to be more physically active. You’re getting enough exercise to help your muscles develop well, without tightening, degenerating them due to inactivity. And all of it is done unconsciously without the burden of setting any intention.
Even if you plan to stay all day at the beach, walking on sand will force your muscles to work twice as hard. For added health benefit of muscles, visit an ocean/sea as the sea salts help relieve sore and aching muscles, and reduce inflammation in the joints.
Improves Brain health
Travel offers a great opportunity to explore new places, meet new people and encounter novel experiences/stimuli. It helps your brain to be exposed to and adapt to new pathways, creating fresh neuronal connections. All of which translates into increased cognitive flexibility, neuroplasticity, a sharp mind, emotional stability, and an increase in creativity. You’ll also get a deeper sense of cultural awareness and personal growth.
Daily routine activities don’t really exercise much of your mental faculties. This is because your brain doesn’t have to deal with much new information. Travelling changes this.
Also, this helps the brain build resilience against degenerative diseases at a cellular level as you age. You’ll have less chance to get degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Helps in bettering the Sleep
As much as it is taken for granted, sleep is the cornerstone of our health and well-being. Inadequate or low-grade/bad quality sleep can result in chronic disease, irritability, and cognitive dysfunction.
All the physical activity and time spent outdoors in natural sunlight during travel, with comparatively less amount of time used on electronic gadgets like laptops and smartphones (esp. at bedtime) helps in improving the sleep quality considerably.
There is no trouble falling asleep and one can easily wake up refreshed and energized the next day. Or maybe just opt for a sleep vacation to catch up on those zzzzzzzs.
Improving Respiratory patterns
Making our way in the overly congested smoke infested cities for everyday chores or just living is really taxing on our respiratory systems. The ever-present urban pollution and other toxins worsen the scenario gradually deteriorating our health. They leave us susceptible to a host of ailments as asthma, bronchitis, COPDs, and lung cancers.
Travelling to far away places (preferably oceans, seas, salt baths, forest greens, etc) offers a respite to our respiratory system. It helps it to recoup and detoxify to a healthier state.
Breathing in ocean air helps to improve lung functioning, thin out mucus, reduce coughing and decrease sinus pressure. Trekking to heights/hiking over time consistently can also improve lung capacity.
Travel is good for bone health because it boosts iodine levels
While travelling, you naturally tend to absorb a lot of sunlight because you spend a lot of time outdoors. This is especially true if you visit someplace with a warm climate. The sunrays help you load up on the very essential vitamin D, which requirements’ cannot be met with diet alone.
Vitamin D stimulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the digestive tract. It also mobilizes bone calcium, required for stronger healthier bones. This vitamin significantly reduces the onset of osteoporosis, which affects individuals over the age of 35 (particularly menopausal women and the elderly).
Now you have one more reason to take that long-delayed sunny vacation. Alternatively gorging on those local marine plant and animal delicacies of coastal areas or swimming in seawater can provide you with an extra iodine boost.
Iodine influences the functioning of thyroid glands and is also part of the process of hormone and metabolism regulation. It also improves immunity and aids in apoptosis (programmed cell death).
Acts as a stress buster and improves work productivity
By now, lower stress levels as a benefit of taking vacation are a no-brainer. But, there are also a lot of domino effects overtime that we almost not talk about.
The effect snowballs into various other benefits accruing due to a break from everyday stressors like:
- Improved skin tone (stress hormone cortisol speeds up the aging process)
- Smoothened out period problems (stress often leads to irregularity)
- Eased out digestive problems and a general sense of improved well being
So give yourself a breather and take a break with a vacation to keep stress at bay.
Also, travelling regularly is proven to substantially improve productivity and work performance. Studies also show that vacations can provide a break from strain and relief from burnout, which further decreases absenteeism and low energy at work.
Reduced risk of depression and anxiety and deepens empathy
Travel offers an opportunity to balance out the work and mundaneness of life with rejuvenation and relaxation (maybe as the oft-repeated ‘work-life’ balance).
Specific types of locations, such as calm green forests or mountain environments, are shown to be effective at lowering rates of psychologically stress-related diseases like depression and anxiety.
Sunny, warm environs positively influence the depressive states (since light regulates melatonin and happy hormones-dopamine, serotonin).
Travelling to geographically, culturally varied places can have a tremendous effect on strengthening your ability to empathize. Interacting with strangers, sharing novel experiences, and recognizing commonalities can all nurture a sense of understanding and connectedness which is hard to come by in regular day-to-day living.
This ability to empathize honed adequately will be an asset for you throughout your life, whether at the workplace or in personal life.