Taking plenty of holiday leads to a healthy heart

A Finnish study finds that anxiety levels are best compounded by taking time off from work


Traditionally, retired men (and women) ran the risk of developing health issues owing to a sudden setting in of idleness and, consequently, malady. For those working long hours in high-pressure jobs, though, taking a holiday every so often may actually reduce the risk of heart disease and increase life spans, according to a study by Helsinki University released on August 28.

The research looked at 1,200 businessmen over more than 30 years, who were at risk of heart disease, either because they were overweight, or had high blood pressure or high cholesterol. In this sample group, those men who took plenty of holidays lived longer, while those who were away from the confines and pressures of the workplace for less than three weeks a year were 37 per cent more likely to die younger.

The panacea for a stressed out or unhealthy individual usually involves getting them to stop smoking eat better, exercise more or take medication, all on doctor’s orders. However, the Finnish scientists behind this study noted that attempting drastic lifestyle modifications can actually lead to more stress, and do more harm than good. Instead the scientists said that GPs should advise their middle-aged patients with high anxiety levels to take a holiday.

Lead researcher Professor Timo Strandberg said: “Don't think having an otherwise healthy lifestyle will compensate for working too hard and not taking holidays. Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress.” The most important intervention to lengthen life, the team noted, is social.

This is in the keeping with a study conducted in 2010 by Victoria University, Australia, which notes that holiday experiences are linked to happiness, and that the impact of a holiday lasts even after it has ended, thus contributing to a longer life.

Something to take heart in, as the summer holidays draw to a close in the UAE, is the findings of an article published in the Applied Research in Quality of Life journal, which state that even mere act of organising and anticipating a trip can make you happier and healthier. So get planning.


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