When it comes to the reason why people travel, it’s often chalked up to needing a break from the many stressors in their lives, wanting to try something new or see a new place, or just spend some time away to do something spontaneous for once.
But did you know that traveling is also highly recommended if you really want to cultivate a healthy body and lifestyle?
Numerous studies have found that traveling is a great way to improve one’s health, and this is only strengthened by the fact that scientists, doctors, and health practitioners all over the world recommend taking a vacation if someone is experiencing burnout, extreme fatigue, or are falling sick due to stress.
But how does traveling benefit you, health-wise? Let’s Check Out!
1. Strengthens your immunity
Being exposed to a new environment when you travel doesn’t just involve you taking in new sights — it means you’re getting exposed to things you haven’t had any contact with before.
Physiologically speaking, this means that your body is taking in new microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and other foreign organisms. These new entities put your immune system at work to try and adjust to these new circumstances, essentially giving your immune system a workout.
This, however, doesn’t mean you should go ahead and find the nearest epidemic-stricken village or rid yourself of basic hygienic practices. But when you visit a new place, you’re giving your body a chance to produce more antibodies to counteract the illness that these foreign bodies can cause. This will make your body stronger and more resistant to similar diseases in the future.
2. Promotes a healthy heart
Traveling comes with a whole multitude of physical activity, from walking around the airport, catching local transportations to get to your destinations, or just seeing the sights.
But what do these do for your heart? Simple: it’s a basic cardio. Engaging in physical movement lowers your blood pressure and the risk of heart disease or stroke because you’re keeping your heart working, therefore strengthening it.
According to the Framingham Heart Study — a landmark research that began back in 1948 and went on for 20 years, women who took vacations only every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop heart diseases or suffer from a heart attack than those who traveled at least twice a year.
Men who do not take a yearly vacation, on the other hand, showed a 20% higher risk of death and 30% greater risk of developing heart diseases than those who do.
3. Helps build better mental health
A 2005 study by Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin found that women who vacation less than once every two years are at a higher risk of suffering depression and succumb to stress than those who vacation at least twice a year. Likewise, traveling is scientifically proven to lower stress levels, with travelers feeling less anxious, more well-rested, and have a better mood overall compared to non-travelers. These effects also tend to linger even weeks after the trip.
With most of our daily lives embroiled in the stress of work and other factors, being in a new environment and taking a break from the daily grind refreshes your mind and body, giving you a renewed energy and outlook to get back to your life.
4. Keeps the mind sharp
Because you’re in a place that doesn’t precisely conform to your daily routine and the feeling of security, you may find yourself tackling new, unforeseen situations. These keep your mind sharp as if you’re trying to solve puzzles, making your trip more enjoyable and worthwhile despite the unfamiliarity of the circumstances you’re in.
Traveling helps stimulate the thinking process and builds mental resilience even at a cellular level, decreasing mental degeneration in the long run. The exposure you get from traveling can improve your memory and concentration, which is also true for patients with dementia. It’s also highly suggested that traveling, which exposes you to different cultures, traditions, people, and experiences helps you become a more open and emotionally-stable person.
5. Boosts creativity
There’s a reason why creative people love to travel just about anywhere — from a coffee shop down the road to a remote location in a country halfway across the world. According to an article from The Atlantic, the brain’s neural pathways are influenced by environment and experience, leading researchers to believe that traveling sparks synapses in the brain which enhances creativity and neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to adapt).
Likewise, a 2012 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found a strong link between creativity and how well a traveler as immersed themselves into cultures different from their own. The better they are at doing this, the more creative and professionally successful they tend to be.
6. Helps you keep fit
As mentioned before, there tends to be a lot of physical activity involved when you’re traveling. It can range from a simple walk around the city to see the sights or even engaging in sports and activities that your destination offers. Doing these activities are already opportunities for your body to sweat out and move about in ways that are otherwise almost impossible to do in your daily life.
Even if you do go to the gym, there may be other activities that can challenge your body that you wouldn’t have otherwise experienced generally in your daily workout. For example, a tropical country like Hawaii would naturally offer its travelers the chance to try out various water sports like kayaking or surfing, which are activities that push your body in new ways. Because they are adventurous sports (perfect for thrill-seekers!), they require you to move and exert yourself more compared to doing crunches as a breather from work.
So, what are you waiting for? Why not make some time from your hectic life and take a breather by traveling to one of your dream destinations? Your body may very well thank you profusely for it!