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What It Takes To Have A Healthy Vacation.

A meta-analysis of 7 different studies suggests that taking a vacation can have a positive influence on exhaustion, life satisfaction, and health complaints.

Written By

Courtney Cornwall, Outrun Gravity


A vacation is supposed to be a period away from the patterns of everyday life that allows you to return to work feeling refreshed and energized, but despite our best efforts, returning home from vacation can quickly bring us back to the levels of stress we felt before our vacation.

Taking that desired vacation can be a goal for most of us, but you might wonder, to what extent do vacations promote positive outcomes on our health and wellbeing?

A meta-analysis of 7 different studies suggests that taking a vacation can have a positive influence on exhaustion, life satisfaction, and health complaints. Though these positive outcomes often fade out after work resumption, there is no doubt that a break from the repetition of daily life can be beneficial for your mental and physical health.

Studies continue to explore the effect of various vacation types on different health parameters. One 2018 study of 52 healthy vacationers compared cardiovascular health after a week-long vacation filled with either golf or hiking and both groups observed a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure. This suggests that time away from the office can reduce stress and promote healthful outcomes.

As researchers dive deeper into the data behind healthy vacationing, it becomes clear that time away from work is not inherently good for all people. In a 7-week study of 96 participants, almost 40% of participants experienced no effects or a negative effect on their health and wellbeing due to limited time spent doing pleasure-inducing activities. This suggests that it is not the vacation itself that promotes health and wellbeing, but rather how that time away from work is spent.

A vacation doesn’t have to be a preset disaster that single-handedly destroys all of the habits you’ve been working so hard to implement in your daily life. A vacation is what you make of it, so here is how to implement healthy habits into your vacation while avoiding unhealthy behaviors, turning your long-awaited trip into a self-decided wellness retreat.

Spare time for physical activity. Exercise and working out can be as formal as a strict weightlifting circuit or as simple as taking a long walk. While on vacation, you are offered the incredible opportunity to explore new forms of movement that you may not have access to in your daily life. Move within your surroundings by swimming in the ocean, hiking up the mountain, or taking a bike ride through the city. Not only will you get to see and experience more during your vacation, but keeping your body moving is a natural mood booster that can make you feel good about your health.

Be mindful of the foods and drinks you ingest. Don’t worry – we aren’t telling you that during your long-awaited vacation you don’t deserve to sip on that sugary margarita by the pool or venture back to that dessert table filled with chocolate assortments. Instead of focusing on the unhealthy foods you should avoid, we suggest that you be mindful to include healthy eating decisions that will make your body feel and perform its best. So, to implement healthy vacation meals, next time you head to that buffet table, try to fill your first plate with a variety of colorful vegetables to nourish your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive. Trust us – the desserts will still be there when you go back for seconds.

Drink more water. Rather than focusing your energy on avoiding certain drinks, try to make a conscious effort to drink more water throughout the day. Begin with one full glass of water when you wake up in the morning and continue to drink water throughout the day between and with your meals. Regularly drinking water throughout the day will give you a natural boost of energy, prevent headaches and other dehydration symptoms, and overall make you feel your best so you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest. If you want to take your healthy vacation drinks to the next level, you can also add a healthy smoothie to the mix!

Take time to yourself. Many times, a vacation is an organized period of time for families and friends to spend time together in a location away from home. Although this quality bonding time can do wonders for relationship development, there’s no doubt that everyone could use some occasional alone time to recharge the social batteries. You don’t need to skip the family excursion to accomplish this goal. Rather, try to wake up 20 minutes earlier in the morning to schedule a walk on the beach or the time to read a chapter of your book. Diligently setting aside time for yourself will ultimately allow you to appreciate the time you have to spend with your family and make the most of your vacation.

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