Travelling is one of the best things that you can do for your health. It helps your physical and mental health, with many travellers saying that it’s also excellent for the soul. Here are eight reasons travelling is so good for the health. By Karen Reed.
Sure, there are some stressful and worrying moments. But overall, when you get out on the road and visit new countries you gain in far more ways. This isn’t about just international travel, either. Travelling your own country and being a tourist in your own town can be so beneficially at the same time.
There are no limits when it comes to travelling, except for what you can afford. You can sight-see around some of your most dreamed about countries or choose exotic adventures. Go by rails, car, or even by boat. There are just so many options, and they will all help you in ways that you have never imagined.
It’s time to save up and plan your next vacation. Get out the itinerary and start enjoying your life in ways so many travellers do. This is a long read, so without further ado, here are my eight reasons why travelling is so good for your health, both mentally and physically.
Reason #1: You’re Able to Get Moving
The biggest benefit of travelling is the amount of movement that you will do. You will constantly be on the go, even if you are taking a trip on a cruise. There are sights to see and things to do!
You know just how important constant movement is, right? You know that this is the best way to improve your health. Not only will you help yourself lose weight, but you’re creating a healthier heart and healthier lungs. Your whole cardiovascular system will thank you, along with your blood pressure. You can also develop a night yoga routine.
The more activity you do, the more you get your heart pumping. Remember that the heart is a muscle, and it needs to be worked at constantly to grow faster. Making it work harder temporarily will build the muscle and keep it working for longer. You’ll also support your arteries, which means you lower the risk of high cholesterol problems and high blood pressure.
Walking around will help you reduce your stress levels, too. You get the release of the happy hormones, which will mean the worries and difficulties of life will go away. You’ll find other ways to deal with the stress, so it doesn’t cause as many health complications in the future. You’re at a lower risk of having a heart attack or a stroke because of your way of life.
Did you know that studies support the idea of travelling regularly? If you think that your once-a-year holiday is perfect for you, think again. Those who take more holidays in the space of a year have a healthier life. They’re less likely to suffer many of the health complications in the future because they are far more active.
It really doesn’t matter where you go for this benefit. You could spend your whole time in one country. What you really want to focus on is getting the steps in each day. If you are going to take a cruise, you’ll get the activity in when you dock and go sightseeing. Of course, you can also add in more exercise by walking around the ship’s deck and other places. Don’t use your vacation as an excuse to sit around and do nothing the whole time!
If you do take medication, you may find that you need less of it on a daily basis. The activity that you get will help you to improve your whole body’s health, as your heart grows stronger. Your normal high blood pressure reduces to the point where you no longer need to take the medication to keep it down. Your doctor will be more than happy to take off a regular prescription from your list for this reason!
There are going to be times that you need to push your activity levels. While you will have days where you tour a city on a cruise, there are other days where you will be stuck on the ship. Most of these cruises will have somewhere to go where you can exercise. There may be swimming pools up on the deck or a fitness suite with state of the art equipment. Make an effort to use them while you’re stuck on the ship for a few days. After all, you’re paying for the luxuries of the fitness equipment, so you may as well get your full money’s worth!
Reason #2: Challenge Your Brain to Improve Its Health
The brain is another muscle that needs strengthening and challenging. While it doesn’t necessarily work in the same way as other muscles in the body, it can be developed and improved over time. Unfortunately, it can also deteriorate quickly. It is one of those parts of the body that researchers don’t quite fully understand. Just look at The Big Bang Theory at how difficult it can be to understand everything about it.
The great news is that travel has been shown to help improve the brain health. There’s the ability to challenge yourself daily, making you think of alternate options and learn new things. You constantly expand your horizons, meaning that your brain is constantly on the go. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, training your brain regularly helps to improve its longevity.
Doctors regularly recommend that people do puzzles daily. They encourage Sudoku and crosswords regularly to make sure your brain constantly has to work. By doing this regularly, you help to support the mental health and reduce the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s in later life.
While travelling isn’t quite the same as crosswords, it does offer many of the same benefits. This is especially the case if you go to new places and visit new places. You take in new cultures and learn all about history and plans for the future. There’s something new to remember, meaning that your brain is getting some sort of workout, even if it’s not exactly what the doctor ordered.
On top of all this, scientists have found that walking or hiking is excellent for physically growing the brain. As we get older, our hippocampus gets smaller. We have two hippocampi on either side of our brain, which are responsible for the retention of information. The smaller they get, the less information they are able to take in. They control the short and long term memory, so you want to keep them as big as possible.
When we get more activity, our hippocampi both grow instead of shrink. It will be much easier to take in all the information that we’re learning throughout our travels. Studies have actually shown that those who walk regularly grow their hippocampi by two percent every single year. Just imagine what it will be like over time!
Wouldn’t you love to prevent memory and cognitive issues in your later years? Your family certainly would!
There is another major benefit of travelling to the brain. Not only do you improve memory and cognitive abilities, but you also boost a number of positive thoughts you will get. Your whole mental health is support through getting out and seeing the sights.
One of the biggest ways you benefit is through the fresh air. You spend more time outside, getting different scents and just benefitting from the extra oxygen in your body. Of course, there’s also the walking that will help you gain some other oxygenated benefits. Your heart pumps more oxygen around the body, especially into the brain.
When you spend all your time at home or at work, you will find the stress hormones release. With the fresh air, your happy hormones are boosted. They keep the stress hormones to a minimum. You feel less tired, and you can find the positives in your life so much easier.
You also get to do something fun. You remove the problems from home, so you can actually do something that you want. By doing something fun, you’re increasing the number of happy hormones that are released into your body further.
More happy hormones mean that you will feel less pain and stave off depression. If you do suffer from depression, you may find that you limit the relapses that you have. There is something new and exciting. The exercise becomes addictive, and you want to see more and do more. You don’t give the negative thoughts a chance to cloud your judgment.
At the same time, your body is able to fight off chronic pain issues. You find it easier every day to walk around and do more. Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons for people to not move around, but this can make it all worse!
Reason #3: Get Away from the Everyday Stresses in Life
The more you get away, the more you move away from the everyday stresses of life. You get to take your mind and body out of work, family life, and other problems.
Of course, this works better if you’re not putting yourself into financial trouble by travelling. If you’re on the road and constantly worrying about money, then you will find it harder. This is one of the reasons some people will work while on the road. They choose to spend some of their time writing about their travelling adventures or cover topics for a blog or make money through internet marketing. They then get to gain the benefits of travelling without having to worry about their finances too much.
Getting away from the stresses of everyday life is important to protect your overall health. Stress is a silent killer. It raises your blood pressure, and your whole mental health will be affected. The stress hormones cloud the judgment and affect the release of happy hormones.
When you travel, you are boosting the release of happy hormones to take over the stress hormones. You take yourself out of the situations that are harder for you to struggle. You also find enjoyment in life that you haven’t had before.
You’re also finding ways to unwind. It’s no secret that we all need a work life balance. We need time away from work to be able to spend time with our family. Travelling offers this chance. This is one of the reasons why scientists have found that those who travel regularly improve their overall health. They’re able to get that work-life balance and ease the everyday stresses.
It’s easier to get out of the drudge of regular routines. You’re not constantly looking at the clock to work out how much time you have until you have to get the kids from school. There’s no need to worry about what you will make for dinner or question if you have all the ingredients in the house. The mad morning rush to get everyone ready for school and work is eliminated.
Travelling allows you to take things at your own pace. Sure, you may be stuck to an itinerary if you book some type of group travel, but you will find that it is still lighter than the routine you have at home. It’s also something different and new and exciting to deal with while you’re away.
When you do return to your everyday life, the stress of your everyday life doesn’t seem as bad. You return to an old routine that is different from the last week or month (depending on how long you’ve been away). You’ll find that the everyday routine is something that you don’t mind as much anymore. That is until you get fed up of it again and are ready to travel again!
Reason #4: You’ll Find It Much Easier to Cope with Stress
Whether you are worried about someone’s health or just have a high-stress job, trying to deal with everything going on in your life isn’t going your health any good. Getting worked up about everything is causing your heart and other organs to fail. You won’t be happy, and you’ll feel exhausted every single day.
You need to step away and start travelling. Getting away from the everyday stresses isn’t just a way to unwind. You’ll find that travelling helps you cope and deal with stress so much better. In fact, you can find that situations that were once a nightmare are those that you breeze through when you return.
Travelling does bring its own stress. You have to make sure you stick to a travel agent itinerary or get through airport chaos. You may have to deal with delays and flight changes. Then there are the stresses of other travellers around you and fitting into a new culture as a tourist. There’s the uncertainty of what you will do the next day or what will happen in your life.
Initially, this can sound like it will make your life worse, but really it will boost your health. You start to realise that there are new ways to deal with a situation. You find that stress is arbitrary and your tolerance for certain situations will grow. The situations that you face on your travels may be worse than those that you face in your everyday life, so you start to deal with those situations in a better way.
You develop new coping strategies when on the road. You want to be able to enjoy your trip and not look back at how much of a nightmare it was. There’s also the adrenaline rush that you gain from getting through the situations. This is especially the case if you tackle an adventure holiday. There’s an adrenaline rush when you push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Coping with stress is essential. You will find that your overall health benefits because you don’t get the regular release of stress hormones. You’re not always looking out for the downsides in life and will find it easier to find enjoyment in everything that you do.
Research backs this up. When you start to accept deviations and problems, you start to deal with them much better. The deviations you accept can be completely different in everyday life, but your new mental attitude will benefit work, family life, and more.
Reason #5: Boost Your Creativeness to Boost Your Health
Did you know that more creative people are healthier? Okay, so this isn’t in every single case, but you will help to improve your life and health by focusing on a more creative approach. The great news is that travelling will help to improve just how creative you are in life.
Let’s look at authors and painters. Before they start on a new project, they will usually travel. This could be to the area that they want to write about or just to an area that somehow links to their ideas. Sometimes they’ll just go somewhere because they want to experience a new culture. They build ideas from the area that they are.
This is especially the case for writers. When they get out of their own location, they witness far more and build ideas from their experiences. They see how people interact, learn new things, and see new sights. They can create a full story idea within a day because of the new sights, sounds, and experiences they gain.
When you travel, you can take advantage of this in life. While travelling, you pull yourself out of your comfort zone. You force yourself into situations that you wouldn’t usually experience; situations that you don’t necessarily have control over.
Remember the deviations and stressful situations that we’ve already mentioned? Well, there are times that you will have to think ahead. You need to focus on how you can get out of the situation that you’re in and that leads to some creative thinking. This type of thinking is then remembered for your everyday life, linking into building tolerance over and finding new ways to handle stressful situations.
There’s then the experience of the new cultures. You see how other people handle life and stress. You see what they do to get through their day—and even the types of situations they will find themselves in. There’s the appreciation of a new culture, which gives you a new method of handling your own problems.
It’s not just the travelling aspect that will help to boost creativity. The planning stages can help. While planning, you look for new places that you want to go and things that you want to see. You look at the adventures that you want to take part in and the things on your bucket list that you want to do. This is a chance to dream, and you get to think about what you’d do when you’re in a new country.
There’s the chance to develop a dream board and create stories about what you would do while somewhere. When you’re there, you can follow your dreams, or you can find something else that you want to do. You open yourself up to far more situations that will fuel future desires and dreams.
How does all this help your health? You constantly push your mental state and yourself out of your comfort zone. You create new situations and build new connections, improving your mental health incredibly. You’re at a much lower risk of developing depression, and you can control your anxiety issues immediately.
The new creativeness will also boost your confidence. You know that you can deal with anything that life throws at you, so are willing to take on more risks. This can also help your overall life, rather than just your health.
Reason #6: Boost Mood and Thoughts Through Social Connections
Isolation is one of the worst things in life. While you think that you may like the quiet, it can be draining on you emotionally. Humans aren’t isolated creatures. We crave the social interaction of others. Maybe not every day, but we do benefit from some social interaction regularly—and definitely not just with kids!
When we don’t get that social interaction, we tend to feel alone in the world. We can have friends everywhere, but they’re no good if they don’t talk to us. Isolation can lead to depression and dark thoughts. We’re more likely to have suicidal thoughts. Those who do already have problems with depression and suicidal thoughts are more likely to give into them. After all, who will really miss you?
Travelling helps to cure this problem. You are forced into situations where you need to talk to others. This is something that happens even if you decide to travel alone and backpack around a country or a continent. You spend time in youth hostels and on cruises, where some of the only entertainment is with the strangers that you meet.
Sure, there is a danger in some of this, so it is important to have your wits about you. Therefore, travelingtravelling with someone else is often a better idea.
When you do travel with someone else, you both find yourself having nothing to do but talk to each other. The connection that you have will be deeper, as you find out more about each other and build on the experiences together. You find joint ways to deal with the deviation from various plans and delays that you may have in travelling.
You start to pick each other up when you’re down. You’ll notice the early signs that there is a problem, meaning that you can nip it in the bud quickly.
Connecting to strangers is much easier as you look for guidance in a new area. You want to know the best places to go and need help with various situations. There’s the ability to see how different cultures celebrate holidays and handle various stressful events that occur.
Some of these connections that you build will be connections for life. You may find that the people come back into your life in the future, allowing you the chance to build the connections deeper.
There is also the ability to push your beliefs and understandings. What you once thought was dark and twisted may become a new normal. What you once accepted by the people around you are now a view or belief that is frowned upon, and you can see both sides to an argument.
The more connections you make, the more confidence you gain. You start to push yourself more and force yourself to make more connections. When you return home, you are more likely to rebuild connections with people you’ve lost. As you find what you need to improve your mental health, you make sure you get it daily.
You never know what those social connections could lead to. People have fallen in love while travelling, which has helped support their love for travelling since they meet like-minded people.
Reason #7: Find It Easier to Boost Weight Loss Efforts
If you’ve ever wanted to lose weight, you want to look at travelling more. Sure, you must eat out more, and you don’t always get to control a number of calories you eat, but you will find it much easier to create a calorie deficit.
Let’s focus on the activity element that was our first main benefit of travelling. When you do more activity, you instantly burn more calories. You make it easier to get rid of the excess calories that you eat on a daily basis. This doesn’t matter if you take a cruise holiday or you backpack around the Amazon! You can take one of the calmest of vacations, and you will still find it easier to lose weight.
There’s no need to do anything majorly special either when it comes to activity. You’ll find that you want to make the most of your time in a new country or around a new culture so you will push yourself more to getting around all the sights. You spend all your day out of the house and get home realising that you’ve walked 15,000 to 20,000 steps—at least!
This can depend on where you go and what you do. If you’re on a cruise ship, there may be days where you don’t step foot onto dry land. However, these types of ships tend to have swimming pools and fitness suites. Make sure you use them to help boost your weight loss efforts—what else are you going to do?
But yes there is the issue of food. All that walking won’t necessarily work off a number of calories you consume, right? Well, this depends on the type of food that you choose to have. Enjoying that one authentic Belgian waffle or trying out the deep-fried delicacies of The South aren’t going to make you pile on the pounds suddenly. It’s about all the food you eat while away and not just one particular meal.
In fact, trying out the local foods is something that you want to do. This is the way to experience the new cultures and immerse yourself in your travels.
The trick is to follow a healthy and balanced diet still. While you can’t completely control everything you eat, you still have some control. You can choose the better restaurants to get all your food groups and even go out and buy fresh fruit and veggies from local market stalls to make sure you get your five a day. You’ll soon find that you have far more control than you thought you did.
This can also depend on where you go. If you travel around Asia, you’ll find that sticking to a calorie deficit diet is much easier than before. This is especially the case of Japan and parts of China, where there is a major focus on a healthier and more fulfilling diet.
You’ll also find that the more activity you do, the less you want or crave the junk. You can try out local delicacies now and then but will find it easier to opt for the healthier choices on the menus.
And then there’s also the water. This is something you need to work on actively.
We tend to drink less, especially when travelling. We find it harder to stop for a drink and don’t always buy the right options. After all, there are so many new cocktails that you want to try!
It’s important to make sure you carry a bottle of water around with you at all times. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, have that bottle of water. And then keep topping it up! If you are in an area where the tap water isn’t great, make sure you set a budget that allows you to buy bottles of water regularly to keep your water intake up.
When you lose more weight, you instantly boost your health. Your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to do everyday things. Your blood pressure and cholesterol levels will drop. You’ll find that it’s easier to breathe and your chronic pain starts to disappear. Doing more is something that you love the idea of, and you’ll want to get out and travel more.
Of course, weight loss also leads to more confidence. You know that you can do more and you aren’t ashamed of or afraid of what people would think of your weight. This instantly helps to boost your mental health, as you’re less likely to allow the depression or anxiety to seep through.
Reason #8: Try Out Alternative Lifestyles and Health Remedies
When you visit new cultures, you get to experience how other people live. This isn’t just about developing new social thoughts or beliefs, but also about witnessing health remedies and different types of lifestyles.
Travelling will let you try out the alternative lives safely and without too much commitment. It’s possible to get away from the touristy areas and focus on how the real people live. This is a chance to experience what it would be like to live there. This is definitely something to do before you take the permanent step of moving somewhere.
One of the benefits of travelling is the freedom. You don’t have to stay where your friends once did. There’s no need to go to the tourist hot-spots that the travel guides say. You can look at doing a month or two in an area where you teach and actually live, especially in Asian communities.
It’s possible to shed the familiarity of people like you and focus on building the right type of social connections. This is the chance to immerse yourself in a new culture.
There’s certainly the benefit of the alternate health remedies. This is the chance to see how herbal remedies really help to cure ailments and soothe problems. You get to try the remedies from the original place they were created, by practitioners who know what they’re doing. You’re not worried about health shops at home adding other chemicals to them or selling them at overrated prices.
If you decide that they do work, you can take some back with you. You also get to find out about the real ingredients so you can make them at home.
This could be your ability to step away from the pharmaceutical medications. There are so many that certain help ailments but can cause other health problems. Just look at the list of side effects that are common in some of the everyday medications. Some of the medications can also affect the balance of your hormones, which is a problem that you will avoid completely when you opt for natural remedies. These remedies have worked for others for centuries, so why not for you right now?
You also help to support your mental health. You know that you have a natural and healthy way to support your body. You feel more in control, especially financially when the pharmaceutical remedies can be so expensive.
So, Where Will You Travel First?
Travelling really is one of the best things that you can do for your health. This is something that supports both your physical and mental wellbeing. You will get to support your emotional health and life a lot better and lead a more natural life, even when you’re not travelling.
The eight reasons to travel more as outlined above are a snapshot of the ways in which you will benefit. There are just so many more reasons to travel to help protect your health.
Just think about the social connections you can make and the way that you will feel. You get to escape the isolation, especially if you currently don’t work or your job involves a work from home element. This is your chance to step out of the rat race and take on cultures that you’ve only ever heard of.
There are also some other steps that you’ll need to take to look after your health. For example, it’s important to watch out for bacteria in the water or any problems with cooking certain types of foods to keep your overall health safe.
When you do decide to travel, make sure you’re getting plenty of activity. While cruises give you the chance to sit back and relax, you want to take advantage of the swimming pools and fitness suites onboard. There are going to be days where you don’t see dry land, but you still want to walk around and do some sort of exercise.
But then the relaxation is also important. You want to unwind from the everyday stresses of your life. You need to spend time seeing how others deal with stress and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Build a tolerance and find a new way of handling stress every day.
Travelling really is one of the best things that you can do. All you need to decide now is where you will go first.
About the author: Karen Reed is an editorial contributor for Positive Health Wellness.