It was when I read a journal article titled ‘Consider Prescribing Tourism’ that it hit me. Is tourism related to medicine and health? Can it be that the author of this article is arguing for tourism activities to have significant health benefits on one’s well being? Is the author really trying to put forward to the medical community that travel should be prescribed more to improve one’s well being?
In this short post I’ll be simplifying and putting it forward to you that travel has the potential to improve your health more so than other things.
Sharpley (2013) tells us that in the popular media and within the broader academic community, tourism is often, and arguably unjustly, marginalised and regarded as frivolous leisure, or simply, a big business. But that is incorrect as Vittersø (2012) tells us that tourism could be seen equally as a human activity focused on the pursuit of greater well-being away from usual domiciles. It is this alone that has a major positive impact on our well being.
But how exactly does it benefit us. The author of the article ‘Consider Prescribing Tourism’, Sebastian Filep tells us that it helps us in three ways:
After a thorough experiment and research, Westman and Etzion (2001) found that employees performed significantly better in their jobs after having taken a vacation. Comparing the levels of stress before and after the vacation, the experiments shows a decline in stress exhibited by the employee upon returning from a vacation. The same can be said with stress experienced in other avenues of life such as parenting and studying etc.
Filep (2014) talks about sleep quality over quantity in his article telling us that the former is far more important than the latter. Studies have shown that those who retract themselves from their daily routine and a system they are usually habituated to, have potential to refresh themselves mentally, emotionally, physically and many a times spiritually. All this aids in helping a person to sleep well.
Cardiovascular Health Gains
Gump and Mathews (2000) interviewed 12,338 men between the ages of 35 and 57 and asked them every year for 5 years whether or not they took a vacation. Compared with men who never took vacations, men going on annual vacations were 21% less likely to die over the next 9 years and 32% less likely to die of coronary heart disease. (Borins, 2000)
These are only three significant health benefits of travelling and taking a vacation. Tourism, travelling and taking a vacation does not mean flying across to the other side of the world. It means taking time out of your schedule to pursue other interests, spend time with the family and most importantly a time when work situations lose importance compared to other domains of your interests. However, research shows that one of the best ways to do this is by travelling, whether that may be nationally or internationally.
Filep, S. (2014). Consider Prescribing Tourism. Journal of Travel Medicine, 21(3), pp.150-152.
Sharpley R. Research probe. In defence of tourism. Tourism Rec Res 2013; 38:350–355.
Vittersø J. Recreate or create? Leisure as an arena for recovery and change. In: Biswas-Diener R, ed. Positive psychology as social change. New York: Springer, 2012:293–308.
Westman, M. and Etzion, D. (2001). The impact of vacation and job stress on burnout and absenteeism. Psychology & Health, 16(5), pp.595-606.
Gump B, Matthews K. Are vacations good for your health? The 9 year mortality experience after the multiple risk factor intervention trial. Psychosom Med 2000;
Borins M. Editorial: Take a holiday—it’s good for you. Can Fam Physician 2000; 46:2372–2374.