They say there are two groups of people who go on vacation. Those who get bored easily, don’t like sitting around on a beach all day and can’t relax easily. They prefer to be out-and-about, busy, and spend their vacation restless. After a week they want to be somewhere else.
On the flipside, there are people who love being in the sun, spend their time just hanging around the pool, drinking and taking it easy. Ultimately they know they have to return home sometime soon, but they are in no rush. If they could spend 3 weeks lounging around, they would.
Well, there’s some good news for this group of people. Longer and more chilled holidays are good for the heart and can add years to your life.
Timo Strandberg, of the University of Helsinki, was part of a research group who looked into the length of your vacation back in the 1970s and were recommending at least 3 weeks to make a difference to your lifestyle. Back in the 70s, the Finnish research group followed 1200 men in their 40s and 50s to see how their vacation length affected their health. Half the group was given advice, including the amount of time they need for their vacation, the other half were simply monitored, without any advice.
Four decades later and the research has finally concluded. It found that the men who listened to the advice but didn’t bother with a long vacation, taking less than 3 weeks, were a staggering 37% more likely to die, compared to the same group who took 3 weeks or more. In a very odd twist, the men who were given healthy advice spent so long ‘stressing’ about how to action the advice, leading very busy lives, but with little rest (and no long vacations), were the most likely to die. Even more so than the men who were offered no advice.
Strandberg noted that those “men with shorter vacations worked more and slept less than those who took longer vacations. This stressful lifestyle may have overruled any benefit of the intervention. We think the intervention itself may also have had an adverse psychological effect on these men by adding stress to their lives.”
So, this is excellent news for people who want to book long holidays in the sun. It’s good for the heart. In fact, the research concluded that doctors should prescribe time off to people with heart problems to ensure they detach from their busy lives and take some much-needed relaxation.
The only issue is, getting the time off. If you’re a busy person working in the city, running your own business or American where you’re lucky to even have more than 12 days days off a year, taking a long 3-week-plus relaxing vacation is nigh-on impossible. And then there’s the cost involved.
Strandberg had a parting shot for people who find it stressful going on holiday with arguing relatives “if you get stressed by being on vacation, it’s dangerous” implying that going on holiday with people who don’t share your style of vacation can be more stressful than relaxing on your own. If you get different groups with different vacation views, then it could be worse for your heart than not going at all.