Want To Live Longer? Take More Time Off

The more time you take off from work, the better off you’ll be (and the longer you’ll live), according to researchers. Why? Vacations are a great way to combat stress.

A 40-year study out of Finland determined that people who took fewer than three weeks of vacation each year were one-third more likely to die young than those who took off more time.

Interestingly, a healthy diet and regular exercise did not equal the benefits of time off as it pertains to relieving stress and living longer, according to the study.

“Don’t think having an otherwise healthy lifestyle will compensate for working too hard and not taking holidays,” said Professor Timo Strandberg of the University of Helsinki. “Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress.”

The study, which was presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Munich, commenced in the 1970s and centred on middle-aged men born between 1919 and 1934. All 1,222 participants either smoked, had high blood pressure, or were overweight, increasing their risk of heart disease.

Half of the volunteers were given extra advice to exercise, eat well, maintain a healthy weight and quit smoking. The remaining percentage was not instructed to do the same.

Believe it or not, the first group was actually more likely to die young. Experts believe they may have been subjected to additional stress due to the added advice. Those in the same group who took less than three weeks off each year were 37 per cent more likely to die young over the next three decades.

“The harm caused by the intensive lifestyle regime was concentrated in a subgroup of men with shorter yearly vacation time,” Strandberg noted. “In our study, men with shorter vacations worked more and slept less than those who took longer vacations.

“This stressful lifestyle may have overruled any benefit of the intervention. We think the intervention itself may also have had an adverse psychological effect on these men by adding stress to their lives.”

He added that reducing stress is critical in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease: “Lifestyle advice should be wisely combined with modern drug treatment to prevent cardiovascular events in high-risk individuals.”

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