7 Ways Traveling is Actually Good for Your Health & The Earth


Did you know that travel is good for you?

It is! And it’s good for you in real and scientifically studied ways.

In fact, research indicates that traveling can improve your brain function, boost your heart health, improve your physical activity, turn on your creativity, and help you to be happier, to name a few health benefits.

And if you add eco-travel into the mix, you can experience the feel-good hormones that come from doing something positive for others.

As travel begins to open up with more vaccinations rolling out, it’s a great time to contemplate the benefits of traveling and how it is good for your health.

Let’s explore!

7 Benefits of Traveling for Your Health & The Earth

Why Traveling is Goo for You | Benefits of Traveling | BrainMD

Brain Health

Traveling to new locations is good for your brain. According to adjunct professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Paul Nussbaum, traveling can stimulate your brain and spur the growth of new connections within its cerebral matter. There’s a link between new experiences and the formation of dendrites, which are the branch-like extensions that grow from brain neurons.

Dendrites help to transmit information between different regions of the brain. When you have a greater number of dendrites, your brain functions better, especially its memory and attention.

When you come up against an obstacle or problem in traveling, and your brain is forced to focus on the situation to create a solution, that act both boosts dendritic growth and tests your problem-solving skills.

The newness is key. When traveling to a new location, your brain is challenged to make sense of new stimuli. Add a foreign language and your brain cognition sharpens even more!

Heart Health

Travel can reduce your chances of heart health problems.

A study conducted by The Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association found that women who vacationed every six years or more had a significantly higher risk of developing a serious heart issue compared with women who vacationed at least twice a year.

And for men, if they didn’t take an annual vacation, they were shown to have a 20% higher risk of death and about a 30% greater risk of death from a heart health event.

Stress Relief

Travel has been shown to relieve stress, and that stress relief appears to continue even after you return home.

One study showed dramatic reductions in stress for corporate middle managers who took a vacation for just four days and the stress relief lasted four to six weeks after they returned.

When you consider that stress may play a role in 60-80% of primary care visits, stress relief is super important to your overall health. With that statistic in mind, travel takes on increased importance for your health.

Increased Physical Activity

Another factor contributing to the heart health benefits of travel may be the increase of physical activity that often goes with it. In fact, research shows that substantial physical activity may accompany active travel.

Physical activity increases even more if you adventure travel. People of all ages can build trips around physical activities, whether that’s hiking, mountaineering, rock climbing, scuba diving, surfing, skiing, golfing, or a simple walking tour. The possibilities are endless.

But even with simple exploration, sightseeing, and visiting local attractions, you’ll likely be walking greater distances, which is wonderful for both mental outlook, your brain, and your body.

Boosts Creativity

There’s a well-documented link between multicultural traveling and creativity. Exposure to other cultures presents a person with new ideas, concepts, and ways of seeing the world. This kind of exposure expands your mind and facilitates the flow of creative energy.

Of course, engaging in creative pursuits helps us to feel a greater sense of well-being, and reduces stress and anxiousness.

Increased Happiness

With all that physical activity, better cognition, and creative thinking resulting from travel, is it any wonder that travel makes us happier? This was reflected in a survey of 500 people conducted by Washington State University earlier this year. It showed that people who regularly take trips are happier than respondents who rarely travel.

Yet, it may come as surprise to learn that even thinking about travel makes us happy. A Cornell University study explored how thinking about an experience such as a trip can increase a person’s happiness even more than the anticipation of buying material goods. Another study found that people feel greater well-being and happiness in anticipation of a holiday.

Eco-travel Benefits Well-Being and the Earth

Eco Lodge Traveling Benefits for the Earth | BrainMD All the feel-good travel feelings get magnified even more if you bring eco-travel into the equation. Eco-travel allows for off-the-beaten track experiences, usually with eco-lodges that are run sustainably in environmentally sensitive areas. Often, they’re managed or staffed by local communities driving sustainable income into their economy, which helps to minimize environmentally destructive practices.

For example, in the Amazon Rainforest, there are several ecolodge, adventure travel options. The income from these operations can help restore rainforest areas and support local communities, helping them to refrain from rainforest destructive practices such as gold mining, logging, and slash and burn agriculture.

Knowing you’re making a difference by helping others and the earth can help boost your own mental well-being. It’s a win for all involved.

Time to get planning! Better health and new adventures await.

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Kim Henderson