Theraputic Vacations – Studies

by Peter on September 9, 2010

West Coast Camping - Photo by Peter Roach

September! Can you believe it. I just returned from 2 weeks of vacation on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, camping with my family and friends. It was so nice to get away and relax. While away I noticed that my little aches and pains were not troubling me, and this got me thinking about the therapeutic value of holidays. I wondered if any studies had been conducted or was it more an experiential thing like Pain & Weather Changes. So this week I set off to ado some research.

The Framingham Heart Study, which started in 1948, researchers looked at questionnaires women in the study had filled out over 20 years about how often they took vacations. Those women who took a vacation once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack than those who took at least two vacations a year, said Elaine Eaker, a co-author of the study and president of Eaker Epidemiology Enterprises, a private research company.

The study, published in 1992, was controlled for other factors like obesity, diabetes, smoking and income, Eaker said, and the findings have been substantiated in follow-up research.

“It shows how the body reacts to a lifestyle of stress,” she said. “This is real evidence that vacations are important to your physical health.”

Another study, published in 2000, looked at 12,000 men over nine years who were at high risk for coronary heart disease. Those who failed to take annual vacations had a 21 percent higher risk of death from all causes and were 32 percent more likely to die of a heart attack.

Another study from the State University of New York at Oswego conducted a survey of more than 12,000 men ages 35 to 57 who had participated in a large heart disease prevention trial. The results, presented at meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Savannah, suggest that men who take vacations every year reduce their overall risk of death by about 20 percent, and their risk of death from heart disease by as much as 30 percent.

“We concluded that skipping vacations could actually be dangerous to your health,” said Brooks Gump, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Oswego and one of the study’s co-authors. “Vacations have a protective effect because they help you reduce your load of stress, or at least allow you to take a break from the everyday stressors of the workplace.”

Another study from the Department of Work & Organizational Psychology, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands found that vacation has positive effects on health and well-being, but that these effects soon fade out after work resumption.

September is here, kids are back to school and there is a sense of routine again. Make sure you maintain the effects of your vacation. Eat properly again, get back to your regular workouts, and don’t forget your regular trips to your Massage Therapist. It may be me that keeps you on track to a healthier you.

In Health,

Peter Roach on holiday

Peter Roach, RMT, CNMT, Laser Therapist

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