Can More Vacations Lead to a Longer Life?

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

Research has piled up evidence showing that taking a vacation is powerful medicine, yet research has also discovered that more than 40 percent of American workers who receive paid time off did not take all of their permitted time in 2013. According to a study by the U.S Travel Association, individual American workers failed to take advantage of 3.2 days during the year, adding up to a total of 429 million unused days on a national basis.

Moreover, the study said, Americans are taking less vacation time than at any point in the last four decades.

 My Viewpoint: Research amply shows that vacations are important. Examples: a 2000 study showed that middle-aged men at high-risk are less prone to die from heart disease if they take more holidays; another study concluded that women who did not vacation annually were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack.

 What This Means to You: Taking vacations are important for health, defusing stress, having fun, and getting the batteries recharged. In my clinical practice, I let my CEO and business executive patients know in no uncertain terms about the need to get away and relax. I warned them about being the richest guy (or woman) in the cemetery. They got it!

 Recommendation: It’s the same as what I told my patients. Take vacations as often as you can. Aside from vacations, you must find effective and sustained ways to release the build-up of stress in your life. Stress generates crises, conflict, absenteeism, bad decisions, unwellness, and higher health costs.

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