The fact that human beings are meant to keep moving, to explore, to discover and to experience new environments has always been intuitively known. One need only look at the worlds settlement distribution in our seven continents to agree with the statement above. What’s more, when you consider the lengths our species has gone to keep exploring and discovering new worlds, such as building a rocket to the moon, then this idea really sinks in. Science has now found a way to substantiate this innate understanding. It turns out that traveling has amazing physical, mental and emotional health benefits. Keep reading to discover more.
Travelling Reduces Stress
When you really think about it, you actually do not need science to prove this fact. The most common tendency when you are stressed is to get as far away from the source of stress as possible. Here you may picture the quintessential Hollywood unwilling hero, running away from his responsibilities. The physical act of moving away from a source of stress (traveling) has psychological effects too. It allows you to forget about the cause of your stress, at least momentarily. Sometimes, as a Cornell study found, just the act of planning a trip can give the planner these effects. The stress-reducing effects of traveling, do not stop when the journey or excursion comes to an end. In fact, a study noted that people who go on a vacation for a duration of three days or more usually feel happy and in good spirits many weeks after the journey. Similarly, a Wisconsin Women Health study found that ladies that take two trips a year are less likely to have depression and chronic stress.
Travelling Enhances Mental Health
The human mind is meant to be challenged and to experience new stimuli. It is no wonder that people that are widely traveled are defined using adjectives like cultured and open-minded. Because traveling widens one’s perspective it may also allow them to find better ways to cope with their problems. Thus, people who travel widely may be less prone to mental conditions such as depression. Moreover, there is science backed evidence that traveling can improve cognitive ability. Because it forces you to master new routes and remember previously unknown venues, it advances parts of the brain known as dendrites. To this end, studies from the University College London have indicated that certain parts of taxi drivers’ brains are more developed to allow them to memorize complex routes around cities. An article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology also found that traveling broadens cognitive abilities.
Travelling Reduces Cardio-Vascular Illnesses
Because traveling reduces stress, anxiety and worry, states of mind that are often linked to cardiovascular conditions such as heart attacks, one can say that it may be a factor that helps reduce these types of illnesses. To qualify the statement above, a study endorsed by the Global Coalition on Aging found that individuals who went on holiday once every six years were more likely to get cardio-vascular illnesses than those who took at least two holidays a year. Similarly, a joint study by the United States Travel Association and the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that men who avoid traveling have a 20% increased chance of sudden death, a 30% increased chance of getting cardiovascular complications.
Travel is a Fun Workout
While there’s no competing with a dedicated workout session at the gym, traveling also offers you the chance to lead an active lifestyle. People who travel certainly expend more calories than those who live sedentary lifestyles. Sedentary lifestyles have been associated with all manner of lifestyle illnesses including obesity. Traveling is a fulfilling way to add some action to your lifestyle.
Travelling Improves Your Immune System
Because traveling allows you to experience new environments it also gives your immune system a chance to familiarize itself with new pathogens, in order to build immunity. Closed off communities such as the Sentinelese of the Indian Ocean, are at an increased risk of losing their lives to common conditions that do not normally need medication. So high is this risk, that their territories are closed to the public to avoid contamination from other human beings. According to the head of the Hepatology and Gastroenterology department at Tufts Medical Center, when you travel you allow your immune system to adjust to a large number of pathogens thus keeping it more grounded.