Want to throw something different into your health and fitness routine? Travel. Huh? Yes, I’m not going to talk about a new superfood or plug in a better way to run a 5k; this time, let’s talk about taking a break.
Vacations are one of the most underrated health must-dos. Most people do not realize the health value of a hiatus away from home and the workplace. Travelling to places out of one’s common experiences is actually a boon everyone should take advantage of when given the chance. Novel environments, cultures, and experiences all stimulate and invigorate us physically, mentally, and spiritually by allowing us to gain new perspectives, boost our smarts, and even make us fitter (of course, watch that diet while on the road).
Novelty Breeds Creativity
Travelling abroad or living a few years in another country could jumpstart that latent creative side, big time. Our creativity somehow depends on how our synapses are wired. Our propensity to think up of new things or think out of the box becomes a little rusty after some time of fewer surprises, less stimulation, and predictability. When you feel you have hit a blank wall or believe life has nothing much to offer, it’s time to give your synapses new pathways.
Spending time abroad can effect mental changes because immersion in new experiences can change one’s mindset. New sensations and new knowledge generate new synapses which revitalizes the brain.
Adam Galinsky, a Columbia Business School professor and author of studies on the creativity-travel connection has this to say: “Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.” Cognitive flexibility is an important factor in creativity and determines how much integrative ability the mind has in creating a concept from two different ideas. Galinsky believes in immersion, engagement, and adaptation when faced with new a environment as these important processes contribute to the degree of an individual’s creativity. This is why he says, “Someone who lives abroad and doesn’t engage with the local culture will likely get less of a creative boost than someone who travels abroad and really engages in the local environment.”
Exploration Boosts Heart Health and Emotional Prowess
On the physical front, travelling may demand a certain level of mobility and activity. A new environment usually invites exploration. If you travel to experience the world, not just loll around sipping margaritas at a beach all week, then it can benefit your heart and muscles as much as a gym routine can and with more variety. If your vacation calls for some hiking or spelunking, you get to test your cardiovascular and muscle endurance. Even hoisting shopping bags and backpacks while walking several blocks around is a workout in itself. Whatever you need to do while on your travels gets you on your feet more than an at-home-vacay where you can simply be tempted to plunk yourself into a couch with a bag of chips before the telly. If you plan your vacation well, you may come home fitter, stronger, and more energized than when you left.
As exploration boosts cardiovascular health, it also enriches the mind. Exploration opens opportunities for discovering new things. New things may improve thought patterns by feeding the mind and keeping its cognitive and analytical abilities in shape. The Framingham Heart Study discovered that people who reneged on their vacations for many years were more likely to have cardiovascular attacks than those who took yearly vacations. People who gave themselves annual vacations were usually better able to manage stress and anxiety than people who opted to not to indulge in trips away from home and work. This means that people who travel for leisure enjoy more emotional health benefits, such as reduced depression levels, better outlook on life, and more mental flexibility and open-mindedness.
New Environments Enhances Sexuality
Studies of couples who travel for vacation together often find that these couples are more intimate and more active in bed. Being away from the daily routines and everyday tasks help keep the focus on one another and strengthen relationships. Admittedly, the travelling together formula may not work for every couple; but for those this does, it’s a fantastic way to touch emotional bases and keep the spark of romance alive.
The benefits from travelling are invaluable. Travelling opens your sense of adventure and wonder, letting you experience joy in life. It will help you find new perspectives and perhaps a new life purpose. While you still can, travel. As Helen Keller once said:
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”