Traveling improves mental health and well-being, study finds

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Taking trips may be more beneficial than many consumers realize

A new study conducted by researchers from Edith Cowan University explored how traveling may benefit consumers’ mental health and well-being. They learned that taking trips and having different tourism experiences can improve mental health and be beneficial for those with dementia. 

“Medical experts can recommend dementia treatments such as music therapy, exercise, cognitive stimulation, reminiscence therapy, sensory stimulation, and adaptations to a patient’s mealtimes and environment,” said researcher Dr. Jun Wen. 

“These are also found when on holidays. This research is among the first to conceptually discuss how these tourism experiences could potentially work as dementia interventions.” 

Taking trips helps the brain

Experts across several different fields explored the latest in tourism and dementia research. While much of their work is conceptual right now, they identified several ways that taking trips can be beneficial for consumers’ long-term cognitive and mental health. 

They explained that not only has tourism been linked to better well-being, but the individual components of traveling can help consumers improve their wellness. The team says travelers are more likely to be physically active, get more vitamin D, and be more social – especially at mealtimes. 

“Everything that comes together to represent a holistic tourism experience makes it easy to see how patients with dementia may benefit from tourism as an intervention,” Dr. Wen said. 

The team also noted that traveling inherently provides a sense of pleasure and enjoyment, which can help boost mental health and wellness. Exploring new places and being a tourist allows consumers to learn new things, have new experiences, and reflect on past and future travel plans. All of these factors can improve mindfulness, which in turn can improve cognitive function and mental well-being. 

While vacations are about having fun and relaxing, the researchers believe that the mental and cognitive health benefits may be far greater than many people realize. The team plans to do more work in the future to better understand how consumers can intentionally reap the benefits of traveling. 

“We’re trying to do something new in bridging tourism and health science,” Dr. Wen said. “There will have to be more empirical research and evidence to see if tourism can become one of the medical interventions for different diseases like dementia or depression."

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