Science of Vacation

July 21, 2021


The science of vacations

"Results of our study suggest that even a short-term vacation might have beneficial effects on one's well-being, strain level, and stress."

Lead authors Dr. Cornelia Blank and Katharina Gatterer (University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Austria) on their study observing the effects of a four-night vacation on workers’ health (2018). In the study, data was collected from 40 workers: 20 who stayed at a hotel and 20 who stayed home. The study revealed that the workers’ well-being and strain levels were improved for up to 45 days post-vacation, regardless of location.

"During holidays, health and well-being increase quite rapidly."

Dr. Jessica de Bloom on the findings of a study at the University of Tampere, Finland, which focused on the effects of vacations lasting over 14 days. In this study (2013), researchers analyzed feedback from 54 participants before, during, and after longer vacations. They found that participants’ health and well-being “peaked” on the eighth day, and that vacation experiences – specifically enjoyable activities and “relaxation” – are “especially important for the strength and persistence” of post-vacation effects.

"This is important because we are actually seeing a reduction in the risk for cardiovascular disease the more vacationing a person does."

Dr. Bryce Hruska, assistant professor of public health at Syracuse University, on a study observing the association between frequency of vacations and heart health. In the study (2019), researchers assessed 63 workers’ blood samples and vacationing behaviors from the past 12 months. They found that with each additional vacation taken, the risk for cardiovascular disease decreased by 24%.

In Dr. de Bloom’s study she writes, “Asking why we should keep going on vacations is … comparable to asking why we should go to sleep considering the fact that we get tired again.” She also noted to The Wall Street Journal, “You need regular recovery from work in order to stay healthy in the long run.” Whether you vacation for 4 days or 8, stay at home or travel, it can positively affect your overall health & well-being. However, research suggests that shorter, more frequent vacations have the best overall effect long-term.

Study on Short Vacations

Study on Longer Vacations

The Smartest Way to Take a Vacation (WSJ)

New Research Provides Medical Proof Vacation Is Good for Your Heart (Syracuse University – Frequency of Vacations & Heart Health)

Here’s a good read on how you can “staycation” during the pandemic: Traveling may not be safe, but leaving vacation days behind isn’t healthy, either (The Washington Post)

by Jenna Lee,