A Tropical Getaway Prevents Respiratory Illnesses
Taking a vacation can improve your health, particularly if you go someplace warm during the winter. Doing so will protect you from the health hazards associated with that season. For instance, people are more likely to get colds and flu during the winter. One Welsh study suggests that cold weather itself increases people’s susceptibility. Researchers found that cold caused blood vessels in the nose to become constricted. That makes it harder for the white blood cells, which fight infection, to reach the nasal passages that are the most common route for cold viruses to enter the body.
Similarly, researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York found that that the influenza virus lives longer and stays in the air longer when the air is cold and dry. In other words, it thrives in winter conditions. Influenza thus is far more common in cold regions and relatively rare in the tropics.
A Cure for the Blues
A winter getaway to the tropics can also prevent or relieve depression. A research scientist at MIT, Judith Wurtman, noted, “Your mental and physical energy are influenced by the short days and long nights of winter.” Those conditions make people more likely to feel tired and depressed.
According to Wurtman, those short days and long nights affect serotonin, a chemical in the brain that improves mood and curbs appetite. Daylight stimulates the production of serotonin, which means the body produces less of it during dreary winter months. That depletion of serotonin causes people to feel depressed and eat more. About 5 percent of Americans develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression caused by the lack of light associated with winter.
Vacations Help the Heart
Vacationing anywhere is good for the heart. Studies have shown that people who went on vacation were less likely to develop heart disease than those who did not. The Framingham Heart Study found that men who didn’t go on vacations for several years were 30 percent more likely to have heart attacks than men who did take time off. Similarly, women who did not take vacations were eight times more likely to have a heart attack or develop some other type of heart disease than women who did go on vacation.
Health Benefits for the Skin
The tropics are also good for your skin. High humidity makes the skin supple, while cold and dry air of winter makes it dry and chapped. Some people develop “winter itch,” in which their skin becomes dry, itchy and scaly. Warm, humid air relieves this condition. It also helps the skin’s pores to stay open, which makes it easier to release toxins and bacteria. That, in turn, reduces acne and other breakouts. Sunbathing in moderation can also benefit health. Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D, and it can help relieve some skin conditions like acne and eczema.