Workers looking for a break now have a new reason to use their vacation time: new research shows that going on vacation can improve your health.
One recent study, the Holiday Health Experiment, co-conducted by tour operator Kuoni and Nuffield Health, the UK's largest charity, indicates that jetting off to exotic destinations such as the Maldives cuts blood pressure, improves sleep and helps to recuperate from stress, The Daily Mail reported. The benefits last at least two weeks longer than the vacation, and can endure for months afterward in some cases, the paper reported.
Although one in three workers typically don't use their full holiday packages each year, The Daily Mail reported, experts say that workers should take advantage of the time and reap the benefits.
The study examined vacationers in Thailand, Peru and the Maldives, comparing them to people who stayed at home and continued working, The Daily Mail reported.
The sleep quality of the vacationers improved by 17 percent, while that of the workers deteriorated by 14 percent. While the vacationers' abilities to recover from stress - using the stress resilience test - improved by 29 percent, stress resilience among the non-vacationers declined 71 percent, according to The Daily Mail.
Among the vacationers, blood glucose levels fell, remaining at that level for at least two weeks after returning home - an outcome that reduces the risk of diabetes, trims waistlines and enhances mood and energy levels, The Daily Mail reported.
"It's apparent from our results that the majority of people feel happier, more rested and much less stressed because of their vacations," psychotherapist Christine Webber, who conducted the testing, told The Daily Mail. "But, even more importantly, I have discovered that these benefits continue well past the vacation - in fact, for months afterwards. I have also noted with interest that you don't need to lie on a beach to relax. In the experiment, the couple who went on the busiest holiday had the most long-lasting reduction in stress."
In the summer of 2012, according to The Daily Mail, 12 volunteers underwent a health assessment, wore heart monitors to measure their sleep patterns and stress resilience, took psychotherapeutic tests and received dietary and lifestyle advice. While half of the volunteers vacationed aboard for two weeks, the other half continued their normal work schedules, The Daily Mail reported.
Following the two-week period, all participants went through a second series of tests and wore heart monitors for 72 hours, according to The Daily Mail.
Derek Jones, the managing director of Kuoni, said that business shouldn't be an excuse for not taking vacation time.
"I hope people will acknowledge not only a boost to their productivity, but to their longevity from taking full annual leave, preferably peppered throughout the year," Jones told The Daily Mail. "Saying you're too busy to take your full entitlement could be counterproductive. Regular holidays can be counted as preventive medicine."