Health

Health Horror: If You Don’t Take Time Off, You’re Making Trouble for Yourself

New study shares urgent reasons for getting away from that job for at least several weeks a year

Want to live longer? Take a vacation.

A 40-year study to be published shortly in The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging reports a 37 percent greater chance of dying for those who don’t take enough time away from the job.

Professor Timo Strandberg and his researchers at the University of Helsinki studied 1,222 Finnish businessmen who had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Some risks included smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, glucose intolerance, and elevated triglycerides.

The men were split into a control group of 610 and an intervention group of 622.

The intervention group received counseling for their diets, exercise routines, smoking cessation techniques, and eventually, medication recommended to remedy high blood pressure.

By the end of the trial, the intervention group had lowered their threats of cardiovascular disease by 46 percent.

Shockingly, at the 15-year follow-up in 1989, there were 46 percent more deaths in the intervention group versus the control group.

The findings were presented at the European Society of Cardiology, as Newsweek noted.

Researchers attributed the increased death rate to shorter vacations, longer hours and less sleep. The control group received no advice at all — and the amount of vacation time had no effect on death rate.

Strandberg emphasized that health education alone isn’t harmful. His hypothesis emphasized that the study guidelines caused extra stress to the intervention group.

The study did not include stress reduction techniques. He agreed it was essential to address and provide guidance about lifestyle and reducing stress.

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In other words, stress kills. The study leaned toward a confirmation of this statement. The hypothalamus, a small area in the center of the brain, is responsible for maintaining the body’s homeostasis. This includes controlling heart rate, blood pressure, sleep, emotions, appetite, and weight.

When triggered by stress, the hypothalamus steps in and disseminates the fight or flight hormones. The big bully, cortisol, is the hormone that negatively impacts all of the above — in addition to irritability, headaches and anxiety.

It’s common practice to brush off medical issues and vow to address one’s well-being once goals are achieved.

A renewed awareness of healthy and positive self-care — along with learning techniques to better manage stress and other medical concerns — are critical. Busy professionals focus on their careers and work diligently to climb the ladder.

It’s common practice to brush off medical issues and vow to address one’s well-being once goals are achieved. Yet this study clearly shows that one’s health needs to bump to the front in terms of focus and priority.

Related: Five Best Ways to Deal with the Worst Boss

Avoiding a much-needed vacation actually can be life-threatening. The blessings of a refreshed mind and body as a result of time off, proper sleep and personal enjoyment can literally improve your health and career.

So go ahead — make plans for that vacation now (if you missed one this summer, the fall can be a lovely time to get some time off).

Based in Boynton Beach, Florida, Christine King is founder and CEO of Your Best Fit, a health and wellness company that provides fitness, nutrition, and design and management services.

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