You might need that vacation a little more than you think you do. Sure, you may have heard that it’s worthwhile to step away from the job and clear your head. But new research suggests it can do your body a lot of good too.
About 74-percent of U.S. workers get paid vacation time, yet they only use about half of it. Some think they can’t get away from work, or they wouldn’t know what to do with their time, or that it’s too expensive. But the reality is that in most cases your employer will do just fine without you and you don’t have to spend any money to step away for a few days.
The benefits can go well beyond stress-relief. A new study published in Psychology & Health suggests that vacationing can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and associated health complications.
Researchers believe that vacation could be a risk-reducing lifestyle change, like diet or exercise, that can battle metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is often a precursor to type-2 diabetes and heart disease. The syndrome is marked by high blood pressure, large waist circumference, elevated triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and high blood sugar.
Researchers found that over a year:
- Each vacation a person took was associated with a 24 percent reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.
- The probability of meeting criteria for metabolic syndrome was 47 percent for people who took no vacations, 16 percent for those who took an average of five, and one for those who took a maximum of 15 vacations.
- Each additional vacation was associated with an 8 percent decrease in the number of metabolic symptoms.
- The number of vacations taken, not days, was associated with reduced symptoms.
- Taking more “staycations” (vacations at home) also translated to reduced risk for metabolic syndrome symptoms.
The study does not prove vacationing can reduce the risk for metabolic syndrome, since correlation does not equal causation, but it does provide something to think about. Stress can play a significant role in many of the contributing factors to metabolic syndrome, and taking some time for yourself now may pay dividends later. If you’ve been on the fence about stepping away from the workplace for some R&R, here’s a good reason to go ahead with it.
Devon Andre holds a bachelor’s of forensic science from the University of Windsor in Canada and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh. This article was first published on Bel Marra Health.