Anybody who has travelled outside his or her comfort zone can attest to the excitement that comes from being in a new environment. As research has shown, travel is not only exciting; it also offers the following five health benefits.
1. Promotes Heart Health
Travel promotes physical activity, whether it is rushing through the airport, walking the streets of a foreign land, or climbing a mountain. Physical movement lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and stroke.
2. Keeps the Mind Sharp
Travel also can promote brain health and keep the mind sharp. When your brain is introduced to new experiences and environments (which happens during travel, essentially) it becomes challenged and builds resilience at the cellular level so degenerative disease is potentially delayed. This increase in cognitive stimulation due to exposure to novelty has been shown to improve both memory and concentration, particularly in individuals with dementia. Similarly, when you travel, you interact with novel stimuli in the form of new people, cultures, situations, and experiences, which can contribute to the delayed onset of degenerative disease.
3. Enhances Creativity
Turns out writers have good reason to travel to a different country in search of inspiration and motivation for their next novel. The brain’s neural pathways are influenced by environment and experience (the brain’s adaptability is also known as neuroplasticity), which leads researchers to believe that travel can spark synapses in the brain and enhance creativity.
4. Relieves Stress and Boosts Mental Health
Stress reduction is one of the most important benefits of travel, according to the Global Coalition on Aging. Pulling yourself out of your daily routines and into new surroundings resets both your mind and body, resulting in significant stress relief.
You can experience a boost in happiness even while planning a trip (up to eight weeks before setting off to your destination). Having something to look forward to, even if it’s a two-day trip, can feel rewarding. Vacationers also likely experience less stress and more satisfaction with their overall mood and outlook after returning from a trip compared to non-travellers.
5. Shifts Perspective
Travel broadens your perspectives, not only of the world but also of yourself. When travelling you may often find yourself in situations that you wouldn’t be in otherwise. You are faced with the reality of living outside your comfort zone, which, as uncomfortable as it is, gives you the opportunity to transform how you see things. Psychologists point out that people often have epiphanies while travelling, as they are able to view their problems from a more detached view.
Watching firsthand how other people live, almost like viewing the world through someone else’s eyes, can also broaden your view. Watching how other cultures live can force you to challenge your own assumptions and free your mind to experience alternative ways of being.