Take a Vacation: Your Health Depends on It

According to research, people who use their vacation time are shown to be healthier.

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How a Vacation Can Improve Your Health (2:37)

Sponsored by Sharecare and the U.S. Travel Association

Going on a vacation may actually improve your health. Yes, you read that right: you have permission to take a vacation for your wellbeing. Studies have shown that time away from the rat race of everyday life has numerous health benefits: it can decrease stress, increase productivity, and improve your sleep.

The importance goes beyond the day-to-day. According to research, lack of time off can play a part in more serious conditions:

  • Researchers found that people who work more than 55 hours a week are 33 percent more likely to suffer a stroke and have a 13 percent greater risk of heart attack than those who work 35-40 hours weekly.
  • Those who don't take time off get sick easier, are less productive, stressed, and more anxious and depressed than their vacationing counterparts. These facts still hold true even after researchers took into account other health factors like diabetes, smoking, income, and obesity.

People who don’t take vacation might find that their “real age” is significantly older than their chronological age. The RealAge test is a unique calculation of your body's health age. In other words, your age might be 50-years-old but due to a variety of factors including lifestyle, nutrition, family history, and lack of vacation time, you might actually find that your RealAge is 55. Your body is aging faster than you are.

Improving your RealAge and boosting your health can't be done just by taking a day off. The most benefits are seen when you actually take time to go on a vacation. Travel is the best way to achieve the benefits of time off. While 86 percent of Americans feel they have not seen enough of the country, the average number of days used for travel annually is only eight. The ripple effects of America’s travel deficit are about far more than unrealized days and dollars: They are about missing out on the experiences, moments, and memories that define us.

Despite all the benefits travel can have, we seem to be a no-vacation nation. Last year alone, 52 percent of American workers didn't use the days off they earned. That’s more than 705 million unused vacation days. American workers seem to lack the ability to take vacation. And even when they take the time off, there is usually some amount of time spent checking in with the office.

How do we fix this vacation problem and improve our health?

  1. Find out your RealAge by downloading the free Sharecare app.
  2. Take part in Sharecare’s vacation challenge on the app: Track your steps in the month of February and be entered to win an all-expense paid stay to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico!
  3. Commit to better health in 2019 and plan your vacation on January 29th, aka National Plan for Vacation Day, with the rest of the country using this simple tool from the U.S. Travel Association.
  4. Remember to unplug when you’re on vacation to really enjoy your time off.

Research shows that people who plan their days off are more likely to use all of them, and even anticipating a vacation can improve your health. So go ahead, take a vacation: doctor’s orders.

Abbreviated Rules: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Internet access required. Promotion open until February 28, 2019 at 11:59PM ET. Open to all legal residents of the 50 United States (including the District of Columbia). Total ARV of Prize is $7,000. Must be at least 18 years of age to enter. See Official Rules at sharecare.com/vacationchallenge. SPONSOR: Sharecare, Inc., 255 E Paces Ferry Rd NE, Suite 700, Atlanta, GA 30305.