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Your Heart Needs a Vacation

By Kate Gardner

I took one vacation last year. Eight hours from home, our car broke down and everyone caught a stomach bug. It was awful. Despite my miserable luck, research suggests that taking vacations is good for you. We Americans aren't always great at taking vacations, though. A Gallup poll found only 62 percent of us took a vacation in 2017, a number that fell from 74 percent in 2001. Vacations can be expensive, so it's no wonder it's hard for some of us to get away. But don't despair, a new study shows that vacationing at home is good for you too!

The Study

In an article published in the journal Psychology & Health, researchers were curious to see if taking vacations had any effect on the development of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms that are related to an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and is often linked to chronic stress. 

The study surveyed 67 people, asking them about all the time they had taken off work in the last year and any vacations (at home or away from home) they had taken. They also had a medical appointment where they were evaluated for metabolic syndrome symptoms (blood pressure, cholesterol, fasting glucose levels, and measurement of the waist). 

The Results

After all the data was in, researchers found that the number of at-home vacations a person took in the last year was the best predictor of lower levels of metabolic syndrome symptoms. So people who took a few days off here and there to enjoy some time at home had the best results! At-home vacations didn't even have to be that long. The total number of days spent vacationing at-home was less important than the total number of at-home vacations. 

What it Means

This is good news for those of us who can't afford to take a lot of time off work or go anywhere. Making sure we take a day or two off when we can may be able to help us enjoy the health benefits of de-stressing without having to shell out money for airfare and hotels. 

All research has its limits. This study only looked at a small number of people who were all very much alike. It also only showed a correlation (connection) between at-home vacations and metabolic syndrome symptoms. It didn't prove that taking vacations lessened these symptoms. Still, it's a good excuse to take some time off work!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, visit your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Flower Mound, Tex. 

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