The 5 Health Benefits of Taking a Vacation

July 18, 2022

We're so used to being on the go and fulfilling our commitments that we often forget to or are scared to take a break. But the truth is that there are many health benefits of taking a vacation.

From better sleep to more energy and even increased productivity, taking a summer vacation is just what this doctor is ordering!

Not convinced? Keep reading to learn all about the top health benefits of taking a vacation. I'll also provide some tips on what types of vacations may provide you with the most benefits. Let’s get right to it!

The Top 5 Health Benefits of Taking a Vacation

Here’s a surprising statistic for you: When polled by AARP Travel, 73 of people surveyed reported experiencing at least one major health benefit from going on vacation! [1]

So, aside from taking a break from the daily grind, what health benefits can your realistically expect? Here are some of the top health benefits of taking a vacation.

 

Health benefits of taking a vacation - Dr. Pingel

 

1. Reduced levels of stress

In terms of the top health benefits of taking a vacation, reduced stress levels is probably the least surprising, right? After all, taking a break from your daily demands alone is enough to help melt away some of the stress in your life.

In fact, according to a survey, 40 percent of workers classifying their jobs as “very or extremely stressful.” [2]

So, how effective is it for your stress levels? According to a 2018 study, taking a single short-term vacation resulted in large, immediate positive effects on perceived stress levels, strain, and well-being. [3]

Additionally, the effects were so strong that the stress-relief benefits were still detected 45 days after the vacation was over!

2. Improved mental health

Given the effects it has on stress, it makes sense that another major health benefit of taking a vacation is improved mental health.

Interestingly, research has shown that the greater the work load someone has, the longer their vacation should be. Additionally, researchers found that the most effective vacations for mental health require vacation time being allocated throughout the year to allow for multiple getaways, providing multiple opportunities for recovery. [4]

Even more interesting? A 2019 study revealed that for every 10 days of paid vacation, the odds of depression in women dropped by 29 percent. And the benefits for mothers were even greater, with the odds of depression dropping by 38 percent for women with two or more children! [5]

3. More energy

According to the AARP Travel survey, 50 percent of baby boomers reported having more energy as one of the major health benefits of taking a vacation.

Here’s why: When you’re mentally focusing on work or the daily demands of your life, it’s draining. Whether you realize it or not, this impacts your nervous system and puts a lot of stress on your adrenal glands, which can make you feel fatigued and exhausted.

Simply getting away and detaching from your everyday demands can go a long way in helping you to emerge refreshed and energized.

4. Increased productivity

It’s hard to believe that being away from your job and taking a break from work can actually make you a more productive worker, but that’s exactly the case!

According to Mark Rosekind of Alertness Solutions, taking a vacation can increase work-related performance by an astonishing 80 percent. Moreover, the reaction times of returning workers increased by 40 percent! [6]

Why is this the case? When you take a break and get away from your usual schedule, you tend to take it easier on yourself and rest more. And when you’re well rested, you’re more focused and productive!

5. Better sleep

Have you ever noticed that you tend to sleep better while on vacation?

Here’s why: When we’re on vacation, we tend to spend our time doing things we enjoy, which naturally pulls us away from depending on caffeine to get through the day. Additionally, you spend more of your day doing leisurely activities and enjoying your time.

That’s important because when you’re constantly in “go” mode, your adrenal glands pump out cortisol, which negatively impacts your sleep. But going at a slower pace and feeling less stress allows you to slowly wind down at the end of the day and rest better.

 

The 5 Best Types of Vacations for Your Health

Now that you know the top health benefits of taking a vacation, let’s discuss the best types of vacations to take for your health.

Think back to your last vacation. Was it quiet and relaxing? Fun and adventurous? Did you experience new things? Or did it cause more stress than it was worth?

If the latter, take a look at my top recommendations for vacations that will help you relax and provide some much-deserved health perks! I’ve included options for different lifestyles, so take a look at the list and determine what your schedule allows for and make it happen.

1. An escape to the shore

If you’re close to the beach or can schedule a trip to the shore, digging your toes in some sand and listening to the waves can be a relaxing vacation to help you recharge.

Interestingly, studies have shown that the closer you live to the beach, the healthier you tend to be. [7] And while we can’t all live near or on the beach, we can tap into those benefits while there!

2. A reprieve in nature

Spending time in nature is a great way to tap into the health benefits of taking a vacation.

In fact, a 2015 study revealed that people who walked through a “green space,” meaning a natural setting (such as park or nature trail), experienced lower frustration, engagement, and arousal. They also experienced higher states of meditation. [8]

Consider renting a cabin in the mountains or going camping for a weekend. You may be surprised to discover just how much better you’ll feel.

3. A weekend break from technology

I know what you’re thinking—taking a two-day break from technology isn’t a vacation. But isn’t it?

If you really think about it, it’s the expectation of constantly being available that’s so exhausting.

While it may be overwhelming to consider taking a weekend and truly disconnecting, you aren’t alone. Just click here to get my three-step digital detox plan!

4. A weekend local getaway

Can’t break away from your phone? No problem—step outside your house for the weekend and you’ll naturally gravitate away from it a little more.

Live near a city? Plan a weekend full of city-based adventures such as visiting museums, taking the kids to different parks or amusements, trying new restaurants, etc.

Live in a more rural area? Check out options for boating, horseback riding, or even check in to a bed and breakfast close by and get recommendations for fun activities there!

5. A staycation

Finally, if your budget or schedule is too tight to venture out, plan a staycation but restrict yourself from all work (both job-based and house-based!) completely.

Instead, focus on spending time with your family by cooking together, playing games, or watching movies. If you live alone, finally dive into that book you’ve been wanting to read or start watching that Netflix show you’ve been wanting to binge.


Whatever you do—just make sure you feel relaxed while doing it. After all, you can’t tap into the health benefits of taking a vacation if you’re feeling stressed or trying to mark things off your to-do list.

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