Researchers from the European Society of Cardiology conducted a study, which has recently been accepted for publication in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, to determine the benefits of going on vacation.
In the study, the researchers evaluated the health data of 1,222 middle-aged male executives over the course of 40 years. Every participant in the study had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The men were split into two groups: a control group and an intervention group. Those in the intervention group were told to engage in physical activity, eat a healthy diet, attain a healthy weight and stop smoking. The control group was not given any instructions. The researchers collected data on both groups' work, sleep and vacation time.
In the intervention group, those who took shorter vacations had a higher risk of death: men who took three weeks or fewer of leave annually were 37 percent more likely to die earlier than the average than those who took more than three works off of work. In the control group, vacation time was not associated with early deaths.
"The harm caused by the intensive lifestyle regime was concentrated in a subgroup of men with shorter yearly vacation time. In our study, men with shorter vacations worked more and slept less than those who took longer vacations," Timo Strandberg, one of the authors in the study, recently said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"This stressful lifestyle may have overruled any benefit of the intervention. We think the intervention itself may also have had an adverse psychological effect on these men by adding stress to their lives," Strandberg added.
John de Graaf, president of Take Back Your Time, a US organization that aims to "challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine in the United States and Canada," told Sputnik Wednesday that although there are numerous studies showing the positive impact of vacation time on health, the US resists imposing the kind of legislation that would allow it to catch up to the rest of the world in terms of vacation regulation.
"There have been so many studies showing the positive impact of vacations on health, how it can reduce the chance of a heart attack, effects on stress, the effects on mental health. We've known this for a long time, and Europeans certainly completely understand this. One of the big problems is that we don't seem to understand it as a country in the United States… really, the US is lagging virtually behind all of the world," Graaf told Sputnik Wednesday.
"The only other nations on Earth that don't have required paid vacation time for all workers are a handful of very tiny countries like Nepal and Papua New Guinea and, I think, Guyana and so forth — probably about half a dozen in all. The only major nation included in that group is the US," he continued.
"I've worked on two pieces of vacation legislation, one at the national level and one at the state level, and the argument is never that vacations aren't good for you or needed or that companies shouldn't do them, it's that we don't want to put any mandates, we don't want to set any rules. But the fact is that when you don't set rules, for a lot of companies, particularly who view workers on a more throwaway basis, not the ones who are trying to keep people over a long time, they don't care, and they're just looking for the short term gains," Graaf added.