Want to Get Healthy? Travel More

May 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Would you like to grow your brain, have more energy, eliminate stress, and decrease your risk for a heart attack?

A British Airways 747 - coach cabinBelieve it or not, you can achieve all that if you just travel more. It seems too good to be true, but there are scientific studies to prove it.

How does travel grow your brain? Paul Nussbaum, a clinical neuropsychologist and adjunct professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, explains.

“When you expose your brain to an environment that’s novel and complex or new and difficult, the brain literally reacts,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 2014. That exposure causes the brain to sprout dendrites — dangling extensions — which Nussbaum said grow the brain’s capacity. Who doesn’t want a bigger brain?

Something people often say when they come home from a vacation, “I need a vacation from my vacation.” Actually, according to the National Sleep Foundation, we get more sleep on average while we’re vacationing than we do while we’re in our normal routines at home. This increased amount of sleep translates to higher energy levels and an overall sense of refreshment upon our return to everyday life.

And while getting away from home and experiencing a new environment may seem stressful, travel actually provides a change of scenery and a temporary reprieve from the demands of life. And eliminating stress has tangible health benefits.

Like avoiding a heart attack. The Global Coalition on Aging’s study on the impact of travel on health discovered that women who vacation twice a year are less likely to have a heart attack. Men who don’t go on vacation are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease. So that week-long trip to the beach may save your life.

Who knew taking a trip could be such good medicine? So, get out your calendar and book that trip. Your body, mind, and spirit will all benefit.

Photo credit: Rene Ehrhardt (Flickr/Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons)

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