Vacations may improve your health

September 21, 2000

Going on vacation may be more than just a frivolous pleasure -- it may actually be good for your health, according to a study of men at high risk for heart disease.

"Vacations may not only be enjoyable, but also health promoting," said study co-author Brooks B. Gump, PhD, of the Department of Psychology at the State University of New York at Oswego.

Gump and co-author Karen A. Matthews, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, analyzed data from a nine-year study of more than 12,000 men at high risk for coronary heart disease. The study participants had filled out questionnaires each year including a question about vacationing in the past 12 months.

Those with regular annual vacations had a lower risk of death during the study period relative to those skipping their vacations, according to Gump and Matthews. Their results held even when the researchers took the study participants' socioeconomic status (SES) into account.

The researchers report their findings in the September/October issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

Gump and Matthews also considered other factors that could have skewed the study results. Poor health could have prevented those study participants most at risk for dying from taking frequent vacations, for example. More affluent participants may have taken more vacations as well as having been in better health. However, even when the researchers accounted for these possibilities their results held: vacations had an independent health-protective effect.

Vacations may protect health by reducing stress -- a known risk factor for many diseases. Vacations were more protective against death from coronary heart disease -- known to be influenced by stress -- than diseases such as cancer, found Gump and Matthews.

Aside from the removal of stress, vacations may work their magic by providing opportunities to engage in restorative behaviors such as interactions with family and friends and exercise, according to Gump and Matthews, who noted that more research is needed to determine the exact mechanism by which vacationing may contribute to good health.

The researchers noted a limitation of their study; based on the data they had to work with, they were not able to determine the quantity or length of annual vacations, nor did they have information about vacation quality.

"Such information might enable a description of the type and pattern of vacationing that have health-protective effects," said Gump.

"Despite such study limitations, these findings suggest the importance of considering the health benefits of restorative behaviors, such as vacationing," Gump concluded
This research was supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Psychosomatic Medicine is the official bimonthly peer-reviewed journal of the American Psychosomatic Society. For information about the journal, contact Joel E. Dimsdale, MD, at (619) 543-5468.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health, For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong,, at (202) 387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Heart Disease Articles from Brightsurf:

Cellular pathway of genetic heart disease similar to neurodegenerative disease
Research on a genetic heart disease has uncovered a new and unexpected mechanism for heart failure.

Mechanism linking gum disease to heart disease, other inflammatory conditions discovered
The link between periodontal (gum) disease and other inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and diabetes has long been established, but the mechanism behind that association has, until now, remained a mystery.

New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease
Scientists have for the first time documented all of the different cell types and genes expressed in the healthy human heart, in research published in the journal Nature.

With a heavy heart: How men and women develop heart disease differently
A new study by researchers from McGill University has uncovered that minerals causing aortic heart valve blockage in men and women are different, a discovery that could change how heart disease is diagnosed and treated.

Heart-healthy diets are naturally low in dietary cholesterol and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
Eating a heart-healthy dietary pattern rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, vegetable oils and nuts, which is also limits salt, red and processed meats, refined-carbohydrates and added sugars, is relatively low in dietary cholesterol and supports healthy levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

Pacemakers can improve heart function in patients with chemotherapy-induced heart disease
Research has shown that treating chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy with commercially available cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) delivered through a surgically implanted defibrillator or pacemaker can significantly improve patient outcomes.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure raising risk of heart disease
Drinking water that is contaminated with arsenic may lead to thickening of the heart's main pumping chamber in young adults, according to a new study by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age
A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors.

Wide variation in rate of death between VA hospitals for patients with heart disease, heart failure
Death rates for veterans with ischemic heart disease and chronic heart failure varied widely across the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system from 2010 to 2014, which could suggest differences in the quality of cardiovascular health care provided by VA medical centers.

Heart failure: The Alzheimer's disease of the heart?
Similar to how protein clumps build up in the brain in people with some neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, protein clumps appear to accumulate in the diseased hearts of mice and people with heart failure, according to a team led by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

Read More: Heart Disease News and Heart Disease Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to