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Taking a Vacation May Help You Live Longer

When’s the last time you took a lengthy vacation? A recent study suggests that taking a vacation may actually help you live longer.


Participants in the study included 1,222 middle aged male executives born between 1919 and 1934 who took part in the Helsinki Businessman Study in 1974 and 1975. All of the participants had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease: smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, glucose intolerance, or being overweight.


Over the course of five years, half of the men were given oral and written advice every four months to do aerobic physical activity, eat a healthy diet, achieve a healthy weight, and stop smoking. If the advice wasn’t sufficient to manage the risk factors, they were given drugs to help blower blood pressure and lipids. The other half of the men acted as a control and were not given any advice or drugs beyond what they received from their normal healthcare providers.


At the end of the trial period, the intervention group had a 46% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. However, in the 15-year follow-up there were more deaths in the intervention group than in the control group.


The researchers then extended the mortality follow-up to 40 years and also examined previously unreleased data on amount of work, sleep, and vacation. They found that the death rate was consistently higher in the intervention group than in the control group, up until 2004. Between 2004 and 2014, death rates were the same.


When the researchers looked specifically at vacation, they found that shorter vacations were associated with increased risk of death in the intervention group. Men who took three weeks or less annual vacation had a 37% greater chance of dying from 1974 to 2004 than those who took more than three weeks. There was no correlation between vacation time and risk of death in the control group.


Researchers from the University of Helsinki conducted the study. It was presented at ESC Congress on August 28, 2018.

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