I think not be able to travel is starting to take a toll on my brain - I am actually looking at moving as a fun distraction right now! I know I must be going crazy if I think moving sounds like fun. That got me thinking about the health benefits to travel and travel does wonders for your mental health. I think I am in need of some travel ASAP!
For the past few months we have been staying home for the overall health of everyone but let's not forget all the actual health benefits of travel. There have been many studies that prove that travel benefits not only our physical health but our mental health as well.
Here are 4 proven ways that travel is good for our health
#1 Planning Travel Makes You Happy
When we look forward to doing something fun, it triggers a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. This helps explain why simply having a vacation on the horizon tends to make us happier. A study in 2014 from Cornell University discovered that people get more happiness from anticipating a travel experience than from anticipating possession of something they’re going to buy or acquire. Now is a great time to start planning your next trip because I am sure we could all use some happiness right about now! Personally I am planning about 4 of my own trips - sure they were all ones that had to be rescheduled but just being able to keep planning for them helps.
#2 Travel Is Good For Your Heart
Tourists can walk as much as ten miles a day sightseeing! I know from experience we had a day in Rome where we walked over 30,000 steps in a day (there are about 2,000 steps per mile so that means we walked about 15 miles). Travelers are also more likely to try new activities while on their trips, such as hiking, paddleboarding and snorkeling. These activities boost physical and mental health.
According to the World Heart Federation, moderate exercise lowers your risk of heart attack by 30% to 50%. So, yes, science agrees that you are doing yourself a big favor when you embrace travelling.
Another study found that women who vacation at least twice a year show a significantly lower risk of suffering a heart attack than those who only travel every six years or so. The same is true for men. Men who do not take an annual vacation show a 20 percent higher risk of death and 30 percent greater risk of heart disease.
#3 - Travel Relieves Stress
Travelling isn’t always about seeing new places. Sometimes it’s about escaping old ones. According to a 2013 Stress in America survey by the American Psychological Association, vacations can help manage stress and negative emotions by removing us from environments and activities that are the sources of our stress.
Getting away from the stresses of everyday life is important to protect your overall health. Stress is a silent killer. It raises your blood pressure, and your whole mental health will be affected. The stress hormones cloud the judgment and affect the release of happy hormones. When you travel, you are boosting the release of happy hormones to take over the stress hormones.
#4 Travel Helps Your Brain
Travel has been shown to help improve the brain health. There’s the ability to challenge yourself daily, making you think of alternate options and learn new things. You constantly expand your horizons, meaning that your brain is constantly on the go. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, training your brain regularly helps to improve its longevity.
In Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life, Dr. Michael Merzenich — known as "the father of brain plasticity" — explains the importance of getting outside our comfort zone and embracing the unfamiliar. People who travel to new places, keep learning languages and continue to experience new things into old age, are far less likely to develop cognitive decay, according to Merzenich's weighty body of research. Want to maximize your brain's neuroplasticity? A change of scenery wakes up your brain and takes it off autopilot. You have to think about small things when you're in an unfamiliar place, which is entirely the point. Learn a few words of a different language, take a walking tour, or even something as simple as trying a new food can get those neurons firing.
All of these studies and more just prove that travel is important for our mind, body, and soul.
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