Take three weeks off

It's one way to invest in your health.

It’s time for you to take a vacation—not just for the fun of it, but for your health.

Finnish researchers looked at data from more than 1,200 businessmen with at least one risk for heart disease (like genetics) but were otherwise healthy. Half of the men were asked to make lifestyle changes, such as eating healthier and exercising more. Surprisingly, it turned out only those who took at least three weeks off per year reduced their risk 15 years later.

The researchers say it’s hard to tell whether these findings would apply to women, but separate studies have shown the huge benefits of taking time off for both genders.
Last year, more than half of Americans wasted their vacation days. If you’re part of the 48 percent who used them all, chances are you have healthy habits like being active and eating well, says study author Timo Strandberg, MD, Ph.D., professor of medicine at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

It’s not clear if taking less time off leads to stress and bad habits or vice versa, but either way, it hurts your health. Strandberg says it’s linked to higher BMI and earlier death in otherwise healthy people.
Ideally, take at least three weeks of vacation each year, or as many as your workplace offers. Time off can help relieve stress, but only if you make it work for your lifestyle, Strandberg says. If escaping for a full week at a time only makes you feel more crazed when you get back to the office, sprinkle a bunch of long weekends throughout the year instead.

Photo: Fred Meylan/Blaublut-Edition.com