The positive effect holidays have on our health has been measured for the first time in a study published this week. The Holiday Health Experiment was conducted by tour operator Kuoni, and Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest health charity. The study aimed to discover psychological or physiological proof of the feel-good effect of a holiday.
Participants of the study were divided into a travel group and a non-travel group. All had stress-resilience testing and a full health assessment from Nuffield Health. These were carried out alongside psychotherapeutic tests carried out by a psychologist.
The results found the travel group benefited from lower blood pressure, improved sleep quality, and improved stress management. The effects lasted up to two weeks after returning home.
The report highlights:
- The average blood pressure of the holidaymakers went down by 6%, while the average of the non-travel group went up over the same period by 2%.
- The sleep quality of the travellers improved by 17%, while that of the non-travellers deteriorated by 14%.
- The ability to recover from and deal with stress (stress-resilience test) saw an average improvement of 29% among holidaymakers. This compared to a 71% decrease in stress-resilience scores among the non-travellers.
Holidays are “preventative medicine”
Dr Lucy Goundry Nuffield Health, Medical Director, Wellbeing said: “These results clearly demonstrate that on holiday our resilience to stress (our ability to physically cope with stress) improves.
“Becoming more resilient to stress is hugely important as most of us will return back to stress when our holiday ends but being more resilient to it helps lay the foundations for improved productivity at work, better energy levels and ultimately happiness.”
The Holiday Health Experiment also found decreases in the blood glucose levels of the travellers, potentially lowering their risk of diabetes. Improved energy levels and mood were also reported.
Derek Jones, Kuoni managing director said: “This study backs up with evidence, the long-held belief that holidays are good for our health. I hope people will acknowledge not only a boost to their productivity, but to their longevity from taking full annual leave, preferably peppered throughout the year.
“Saying you’re too busy to take your full entitlement could be counterproductive. Regular holidays can be counted as preventive medicine.”