It’s official: Taking time off work helps you live longer

If ever you need another reason to take more time off work, here it is. It’s no secret that a stress-free, relaxed life is beneficial for your health. But further to this, new research has highlighted that people who take more time off work actually live longer.

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As reported by The Independent, a study which was conducted over 40 years has concluded that individuals who took fewer than three weeks of annual leave were a third (37%) more likely to die young than those who took more. The results also showed that  a healthy diet and regular exercise were still no substitute for time off when it came to relieving stress and prolonging life, meaning the only solution is to give yourself a substantial amount of holiday time per year.

Professor Timo Strandberg of the University of Helsinki in Finland, said: ‘Don’t think having an otherwise healthy lifestyle will compensate for working too hard and not taking holidays. Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress.’

The study began back in the 1970s and involved 1,222 middle-aged male participants born between 1919 and 1934 – all of whom were at risk of heart disease, due to factors such as high blood pressure, smoking or being overweight.

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The researchers gave half of them instructions eat sensibly, exercise, achieve a healthy weight and stop smoking, while the other half of participants were given no instructions at all. Their findings were then presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Munich, where they explained that those given the additional advice were more likely to die young. However, the experts also suggested that the interventions may have added extra stress to their lives.

‘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,’ said Professor Strandberg. ‘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 live.’

So there you have it. Turns out taking your annual leave is a lot more important than you think.