What do coronary heart disease (CHD) and vacation have to do with one another? Nothing, you might think. But Dr. Brooks B. Gump and Dr. Karen A. Matthews studied 12,866 men between the ages of 35 and 59 with high risk for CHD for 10 years and proved otherwise.

It has now been scientifically established: going on vacation is good for your heart!

Hiking at highest peak in Kosova - Gjeravica. Now that's a healthy vacation!

Hiking at highest peak in Kosova, Gjeravica. That will certainly help your heart!

Gump and Matthews gave men questionnaires at their annual physicals that asked them to rate how they felt after going on vacation. Their research determined that vacations “reduce ongoing stressors,” “eliminate potential stressors and anticipated threats,” and “provide a unique opportunity for behaviors having restorative effects on anabolic physiological processes, such as social contact with family and friends (36–38) and physical activity (15), in the context of reduction of stress-initiated catabolic effects.”

The reason it took a scientific evidence to prove what we want to believe in our hearts to be true is that, in the American work culture, taking time off is seen as something “bad” employees do. If you think you haven’t succumbed to this mindset, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I use all my vacation days each year or leave them on the table?
  2. Do I work in fear that if I take time off, I might be viewed as replaceable?
  3. Do I dread the workload that will await me upon my return from a vacation?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you may have been duped into believing this misperception. Gump and Matthews’ study has proven that not taking at least one vacation each year will result in increased risk of CHD. What job is worth that?

Take the doctors’ advice and plan a vacation. Your body and your family will thank you.

Do you take all your vacation days at work? Why or why not? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Nentori (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)