Sunday, August 16, 2015

Be happy-- plan an adventure

Go ahead—take that vacation! It’s the healthy thing to do.
The personal benefits of travel have been widely studied, but Americans get the least amount of vacation time among countries in the industrialized world, according to a study by the U.S. Travel Association. There are several reasons why additional vacation time can help you live longer and happier.
Using a redwood tree for yoga pose in
Humboldt State Park in California

Direct health benefit: Research shows that an annualvacation can cut a person’s risk of heart attack by 50 percent. Even a short holiday can bring down blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of stress hormones. Active leisure time directly contributes to higher levels of physical and mental health—with a bonus that travelers sleep better.

Bicycling in Yosemite National
Park is good exercise and fun.
Anticipation factor: Other research has shown that the path to happiness is paved with planning and waiting for an event to happen.  For some people, planning a trip or adventure is almost as much fun as actually going. It puts your brain in overdrive with anticipation. Some people might even hold off on an experience so they can savor thinking about it longer.

Enjoyment factor: A study from Cornell University shows that people who spend discretionary income on experiences such as travel are happier than when buying material goods. Then there’s the pleasure of reviewing and sharing the experience afterwards.
Researchers found that thinking about or waiting in line to make a purchase for an experience (for example, ski passes or concert tickets) is generally more pleasant than for those spending money on things.  Think how happy society as a whole could be if people focused on getting away more.

Beautiful scenery and a cool river to
splash in--such a happy place.
Life satisfaction: Even the anticipation of vacation travel generates an increase in positive feelings about one’s life, family, economic situation, and health. It often opens up a person for conversation and can help lift depression of people dealing with emotional traumas.
So, there you have it. Get out the travel guide, and start planning your next adventure. You’ll be healthier and happier if you do.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

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