Regular Vacations: Prescription For Healthy Lifestyle

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Recent research shows that the long-term benefits associated with taking regular vacations contribute to better health, relationships and job performance. In fact, the statistics are astounding. Men who don't vacation regularly are 32 percent more likely to die of heart attacks; women are 50 percent more likely.(1) In an effort to encourage Americans to become more disciplined about taking time each year to rejuvenate, VacationBetter.org has partnered with John de Graaf, a leading authority on this subject.

"People need to understand the important health benefits they will get from taking time away from their normal routine," says John de Graaf, executive director of Take Back Your Time, an initiative encouraging time outside of work. "Vacations are not a luxury but an important part of any healthy lifestyle."

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For nearly 20 years, de Graaf's efforts have focused on the belief that Americans are vacation deprived. A recent study from Expedia estimates that 47.5 million Americans will not use all of their earned vacation days this year, leaving an average of three unused. In total, they will give back more than 460 million vacation days.

De Graaf's research points to hectic, work-life balance issues in the United States as a leading contributor to why Americans don't take the time or often overlook the importance of vacations. Furthermore, getting away for regular vacations proves challenging for many, especially in tough economic times. There is growing evidence, however, that investing in a vacation means investing in your personal health and overall well-being. One to two weeks away from the daily routine leads to better job performance and productivity, increasing reaction times by 30 to 40 percent. In addition, quality of sleep increases by about one hour a night upon return from vacation. "Simply put, people can't afford not to take a vacation," says de Graaf.

"It's time for over-stressed Americans to write their own prescription: 'Take Two Weeks and Call Me in the Morning'," says de Graaf. "That regular vacation break will keep people out of the doctor's office and enjoying life."

The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) has long promoted the need to vacation at least once a year. "Spending quality time away from the stresses of daily life and ensuring that every member of the family will have the necessary space to rejuvenate adds value to the vacation experience," said Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA. "We look forward to working with John to help make the connection that Americans are vacation deprived and that taking a regular vacation will provide long-lasting health and family benefits."

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