Beat stress, lose weight? Take a vacation

One way to beat stress, extra flab, and sleep problems? Take a vacation, according to a small...

One way to beat stress, extra flab, and sleep problems? Take a vacation, according to a small study. ©Nikolay Okhitin/


, Last Updated: 11:57 AM ET

While you may not argue that a vacation can do you some good, now a small study backs you up.

Findings show that compared with people who continue working, vacationers sleep better, have lower blood pressure, and feel less stressed -- and some of these benefits linger after you return to the grind.

British tour operator Kuoni conducted its Holiday Health Experiment by recruiting 12 people living in the UK. All subjects underwent full health assessments and psychological tests and were asked to wear heart monitors. Half of the participants were sent on vacation to Thailand, Peru, or the Maldives, while the other half stayed at home, working their full-time jobs. Both groups were offered advice on lifestyle and health.

Two weeks after the vacationers returned, both groups had more medical and psychological tests and wore heart monitors for several days.

The study found that blood pressure among vacationers fell on average by 6%, compared with a 2% increase among those who stayed at home.

Sleep also improved by 17% among those who travelled, compared with a 14 percent drop in those who continued working. The holidaymakers' ability to recover from stress improved by 29 percent, while that of the group who stayed at home deteriorated by 71%.

The holidaymakers also saw decreases in blood glucose levels, reducing the risk of diabetes. Other perks of taking a vacation: improved body shape (losing weight around their middles), which may lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, and improved energy levels and moods, say the researchers.