A Vacation Away Keeps the Doctor at Bay
Surveys Show Americans Don't Use Their Leave Time
In that study, conducted by Brooks Gump, PhD, of the department
of psychology at the State University of New York at Oswego, the frequency of
vacationing was studied among more than 12,000 men at high risk for heart
disease over a nine-year period. Results showed that men who took vacations had
significantly less risk of dying from heart disease -- or any other condition
-- than men who did not.
Muney says the results suggest that American employers who make
it a practice to monitor employees who take too much time off, would do well to
also monitor those who work too much. It could save them money in healthcare
costs, he says.
Cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, MD, assistant clinical professor
of medicine at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington,
says the Psychosomatic Medicine study confirms his own belief that too
much work and not enough play is bad for the heart. "When my
patients tell me they can't afford to take a vacation, I tell them they can't
afford not to," he tells WebMD.
Sinatra and Muney both agree that what you do on your vacation
is not nearly so important as what you don't do. "Don't take your busy life
along with you," Sinatra says. "A vacation should truly be a
And Muney says, "The message should be: Leave your laptop
Both Sinatra and Muney say that what makes for a healthy
vacation is really a holiday of the mind. Your vacation could be in the
backyard watching the grass grow, as long as you stay there long enough to
forget about work, they say.
"A lot of what this is about is a mental attitude,"
Muney tells WebMD. "When you come back, you should feel refreshed with a
new perspective. This would seem to indicate a period of time longer than a
And Sinatra says vacations can be a way of reconnecting with
family. Camping trips, especially, are an economical way to spend time with
kids, away from the distractions of television and commercial fare.
Recalling his own camping vacations as a child with his
parents, Sinatra says, "it was the greatest vacation I ever had. The best
thing my father could give me was the gift of himself and his undivided