Well it is officially the dog days of summer. Scorching heat and in the Northeast, stifling humidity have come to call reminding us all that back-to-school time is just around the corner. Since August is typically a big month for family vacations, I thought it would be timely to reveal a recent study performed by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, showing that there are tangible health benefits to taking a break from your daily grind.
With the economy weighing on so many people’s minds, it is understandable that folks may be opting to skip this year’s vacation. But doing so may wind up costing you more than money. The study, published Thursday in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine illustrated that engaging in enjoyable leisure activities can lower stress hormones and blood pressure, make you feel better all over, and reduce your waist circumference and body mass index. (That last part is probably only true if you skip a few of those midnight buffets on the cruise ship.) 1400 people participated in the study which monitored their leisure activities such as vacationing, playing sports, going dancing or just sofa surfing. As you might expect, the folks that participated in the most leisure activities seemed to reap the most health benefits.
Karen Matthews, PhD, a professor of psychiatry, epidemiology, and psychology and a co-author of the study said, “When you’re under stress, the usual thing is to cut back on enjoyable activities because you’re feeling uncomfortable and you need more time to deal with the stress. But these data suggest that’s the wrong thing to do, and that continuing enjoyable activities can be helpful.” My anecdotal evidence seems to support these claims. So as your online “Blog Doctor”, I order you to take yourself a vacation. Even an overnight trip to the beach will do wonders for your stress levels and perspectives.
When you get back, we can talk about my bill for medical services rendered. 😉