11 Scientific Benefits of Taking Adventurous Vacations

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While lounging by the beach sipping drinks with little umbrellas can be fantastic, a more active, adventurous vacation can actually do more to improve your quality of life. Here are a few scientific reasons you should turn your next getaway into an adventure.

1. You’ll Be More Resilient

A recent study found that people who are more adventurous increase their quality of life by gaining strength. In the study, two groups of teenagers were sent on the same rigorous sailing voyage that included tough, physical working conditions designed to teach the teens the personal skills necessary to help themselves and each other get through the experiment. The groups’ skills were tested at the beginning and end of the voyage as well as five months after the trip’s completion. When compared with a control group, the adventure-takers were found to have increased their overall resilience by successfully navigating the voyage’s risks.

2. You’ll Stay Fit

Taking a vacation that includes extreme outdoor activities such as mountain biking, rock climbing, or kayaking can drastically upgrade your health. But even exerting yourself by doing something as simple as taking a run on a trail will improve your cardiovascular system and balance. Running in a natural environment also works muscle groups that are neglected when you run on the treadmill at the hotel gym.

3. You’ll Be Less Stressed

Vacations are all about getting away from your normal life, but staying active during your time off may make your everyday life less stressful, too! In a 2009 study, Canadian researchers found that the majority of the 900 lawyers they tested displayed lower levels of stress in their day-to-day lives after regularly taking vacations that included vigorous activities. Staying active allowed them to better recuperate and worry less about the stresses of their work even after their vacations were over.

4. It Will Make You Smarter

In another recent study, a group of middle-aged adults were asked to take at least three 45-minute walks per week for an entire year. As a result, the walkers’ brains grew by an average of two percent. Typically, your hippocampus begins to get smaller once you hit your mid-50s, causing potential memory loss. By regularly taking to the outdoors, you can not only stop this shrinking, but reverse it.

5. It Will Strengthen Family Bonds

Want your family to feel closer? Hiking up a Costa Rican volcano could do the trick! On a typical family vacation, all members of the family are eager to branch out on their own. But if you plan out some adventures, your trip might just bring the whole family together. A Purdue University study found that doing group activities while on vacation encourages bonding between family members. These sorts of shared adventurous activities foster open communication, encourage solidarity, and create a stronger sense of shared memories, all of which help build a better family dynamic.

6. You’ll Sleep Better

Physical activity not only makes you tired, but staying active during your vacation time could actually make you sleep better once you return to your daily routine. A 2006 study found that people who took active vacations averaged an increase of an hour or more of quality sleep once they returned. Participants were given monitors that tracked the quantity and quality of sleep three days before the trip, three days during the trip, and three days after. By making sure their vacations were eventful, the participants were able to extend and improve their sleep schedules.

7. You’ll Be More Confident

Taking an adventurous vacation will undoubtedly lead you to do things you wouldn’t normally do, and by achieving difficult goals and completing new experiences, you build self-confidence. Researchers have found that people who partake in adventurous activities while on vacation are more self-actualized than those who do not.

8. It’ll Increase Your Drive

One of the better payoffs of adventure is that it increases your energy reserves and makes you work harder once you’re back on the job. Researchers at Tel Aviv University found that staying active while on vacation boosts your productivity, leading to a significant improvement in job performance once the vacation is over.

9. It Helps Conserve the Environment

By seeking out a specific place to hike or by scaling a particularly gorgeous peak, planning an adventurous vacation can encourage the protection of ecosystems. According to a consulting firm’s study, once-neglected natural resources can become protected environments if they are recognized as having tourist-related benefits.

10. You’ll Be Happier

Adventure-seekers are known for stepping outside—sometimes way outside—their comfort zones in order to try new things. Be it hiking to higher heights, exploring uncharted territory, or finding a new adrenaline rush, adventurous vacationers are eager to expand their range of experiences. Recent studies undertaken at Winston-Salem State University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill show that people who engage in a variety of experiences are more likely to retain positive emotions and minimize negative ones than those who stick to a lifetime of routine. As such, adventurers are better equipped to stave off anxiety and depression.

11. You’ll Live Longer

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts recently found that going on vacation and doing vigorous outdoor activities while there may help extend your life. They found that vacations actually reduced the risk of untimely death and heart disease in a group of at-risk middle-aged men. What a convenient thing to tell your boss!

Waterfall rappelling, river rafting, world-class surfing, and more are waiting for you in Costa Rica. To see how Costa Rican adventures are helping save overworked Americans, visit SavetheAmericans.org.

September 9, 2015 - 12:00am
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