USA Today columnist, Kim Painter, writes today about “Vacation deprivation,” as it has been dubbed by Expedia.com. The phenomena has been spreading for years as Americans’ vacations get shorter or are skipped entirely. But this year’s high travel costs, flying hassles and spooky economy may be creating a “perfect storm” that keeps people hunkered down as never before. Believe it or not, this may negatively impact your health.
In my book, 10 Essentials of Highly Healthy People, I discuss the fact that rest, relaxation, and restful vacations are key to remaining health. What does a good vacation help prevent?
• More heart disease and death. Middle-aged men who were at high risk of heart disease were 20% less likely to die of any cause and 50% less likely to die of a heart attack over nine years if they took frequent vacations, a study published in 2000 in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found.
• Poorer sleep. People not only sleep better during vacations, but they also keep sleeping better afterward, some studies show.
• More tension, depression, fatigue and marital strain, at least for women, according to one study of 1,500 women in rural Wisconsin, published in 2005 by researchers from the Marshfield (Wis.) Clinic.
In the USA Today report, Joe Robinson, a life coach and author who founded Work to Live, a group that advocates for more leisure time,says, “Vacation is not a frill.” However, one in four American workers get no paid holidays or vacation time, a 2007 study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research showed.
The average worker gets 14 paid days off but works three of those days, an Expedia survey found.
That survey found Europeans also give up a few vacation days but have more to squander: 26 in Great Britain, 33 in Italy and 37 in France.
The vacation gap has been proposed as one reason Americans are not as healthy as Europeans.
My recommendation? Take your vacation and do everything you can to make it as restful and relaxing as possible.
Also, read my blog on “Make Family Vacations a Healthy Memory,” which is excerpted from my book, God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Child.