Vacations aren’t just for fun…they are key to providing a variety of health benefits. According to Steve Blake, vice president of Clinical Operations at Managed Health Network, Inc., a subsidiary of Health Net, Inc., “A number of studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and psychological health benefits. Workers who don’t take advantage of the vacation time that they’re eligible for could be shortchanging themselves in terms of benefits to their health.”
A recent article published by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans reports the benefits of a summer timeout as valuable for heart health, a decrease in depression, stress management, higher positive emotional levels and even weight loss. Consider these statistics:
- The average U.S. employee only takes half of his or her eligible vacation time. Among those respondents to Glassdoor’s Q1 2014 Employment Confidence Survey who actually do go on vacation, three in five admit to doing some work and 25% of vacationing employees were contacted by a coworker, and 20% were contacted by their supervisor, about a work-related issue.
- Women who took a vacation only once every six years or less were almost eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack compared to women who vacationed at least twice a year.
- The Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial for the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease sponsored by the National Institutes of Health’s Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute followed 12,000 men who had a high risk for coronary heart disease over a nine-year period. The study found that any such men who take frequent annual vacations were 21 percent less likely to die from any cause.
- A study by the American Psychological Association concluded that vacations work to reduce stress by removing people from activities and environments that tend to be sources of stress. Additionally, research by the Boston Consulting Group found that high-level professionals who were required to take time off were significantly more productive overall than those who spent more time working.
In the words of the often-quoted Betsy Jacobson, “Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.”
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