It’s now official — travelling is good for your health and lowers your risk of experiencing cardiovascular problems!
OK, now that I’ve gotten your attention, let’s back up a little! The actual chore of travelling itself — i.e. the flying, the queuing up at airport security etc. — is probably not, as we know that to be stressful and God knows, I’ve taken enough flights and stood in enough queues to have gained that insight. What we’re talking about here is the part when you get to where you’re going or start doing what you’ve travelled some distance to do! It’s the relaxing part and apparently there is a big qualitative difference between the type of relaxing that you do at home (in the evenings for example, or at the weekends) and the type of relaxation that you experience when you go away.
Don’t take my word for it though. This good news comes from a new study conducted by Syracuse University researchers who found that people can reduce their metabolic symptoms, and therefore their risk of cardiovascular disease, by going on holiday (or vacation, as the Americans call it.)
The researchers found that people who went on holidays more frequently in the past 12 months have a lower risk for metabolic syndrome and a lesser number of metabolic symptoms. Each additional holiday taken by participants decreased the risk for metabolic syndrome by nearly a quarter (24%).
‘’What we found is that people who holidayed more frequently in the previous 12 months had a lowered risk for metabolic syndrome and metabolic symptoms,” said Bryce Hruska, Ph.D., an assistant professor of public health at Syracuse University’s Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, and the lead author of the study.
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as large waist circumference, hypertension, elevated triglyceride levels, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and elevated blood glucose. If a person has more of them, they are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 17.9 million people die each year due to cardiovascular disease.
“If you have more (risk factors), you are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. This is important because we are actually seeing a reduction in the risk for cardiovascular disease, the more travelling a person does. Because metabolic symptoms are modifiable, it means they can change or be eliminated,” Hruska said.
Of course, this good news is something that travel agents have instinctively known for some time, so science is still in the process of catching up. A good travel agent can also help in reducing the stress levels associated with booking your travel arrangements or mitigating the fallout when things beyond your control go awry. The few quid that you might theoretically save by bypassing the travel agent are more than offset by the increase in your blood pressure trying to interpret the arcane rules of airline baggage allowances; figuring out whether the sprained ankle you experienced whilst skiing four years ago represents a pre-existing condition that could invalidate your travel insurance or even if the website you’ve just booked on is a real one and you were just fortunate in your timing to snag that round-trip fare to Bangkok for €299!
Your doctor travel agent will see you now!