Kale. Meditation. A good night’s sleep. You know all these things are good for you (even if you don’t always incorporate them into your daily routine). A vital addition to that list is travel, which offers a host of health benefits to your mind, body, and soul.
1. Promotes Heart Health
Travel promotes physical activity, whether it is rushing through the airport, walking the streets of a foreign land, or climbing a mountain. Physical movement lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and stroke. According to information gathered from the Framingham Heart Study, a landmark study that began in 1948 and spanned over the course of 20 years, women who vacationed only every six years or less were nearly eight times more likely to develop heart disease or have a heart attack compared to women who traveled at least twice a year.
2. Keeps the Mind Sharp
Travel also can promote brain health and keep the mind sharp. When your brain is introduced to new experiences and environments (which happens during travel, essentially) it becomes challenged and builds resilience at the cellular level so degenerative disease is potentially delayed. This increase in cognitive stimulation due to exposure to novelty has been shown to improve both memory and concentration, particularly in individuals with dementia.
3. Enhances Creativity
Turns out writers have good reason to travel to a different country in search of inspiration and motivation for their next novel. The brain’s neural pathways are influenced by environment and experience (the brain’s adaptability is also known as neuroplasticity), which leads researchers to believe that travel can spark synapses in the brain and enhance creativity.
4. Relieves Stress and Boosts Mental Health
Stress reduction is one of the most important benefits of travel, according to the Global Coalition on Aging. According to a 2012 Expedia survey, 89 percent of vacationers found they could let go of stress and just relax after only a day or two into their trip. Pulling yourself out of your daily routines and into new surroundings resets both your mind and body, resulting in significant stress relief. Moreover, leisure activities, such as travelling, can lower levels of depression and improve psychological functioning. You can experience a boost in happiness even while planning a trip. Having something to look forward to, even if it’s a two-day trip, can feel rewarding.
5. Shifts Perspective
Travel broadens your perspectives, not only of the world but also of yourself. When traveling you may often find yourself in situations that you wouldn’t be in otherwise. You are faced with the reality of living outside your comfort zone, which, as uncomfortable as it is, gives you the opportunity to transform how you see things. Psychologists point out that people often have epiphanies while traveling, as they are able to view their problems from a more detached view.Watching firsthand how other people live, almost like viewing the world through someone else’s eyes, can also broaden your view. Watching how other cultures live can force you to challenge your own assumptions and free your mind to experience alternative ways of being.
Author: Emily Holland