Taking a holiday is key to living longer NOT diet and exercise, experts say
GOING on holiday helps you live longer, research reveals.
Medics found working too hard can be deadly for stressed middle-aged adults.
A 40-year study shows they were a third more likely to die young if they took less than three weeks off each year.
Experts said just doling out pills to unhealthy Brits and advising them to get fit could be harmful – as it may raise stress levels with deadly effect.
Instead, GPs should be encouraging more of us to take a break by prescribing a holiday as well.
Lead researcher Professor Timo Strandberg, from Helsinki University, 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, presented at the European Society of Cardiology [must keep] conference in Munich, began in 1974 and involved more than 1,200 middle-aged businessmen.
Scientists were surprised to find that those given lifestyle advice and drugs were more likely to die young than those left to their own devices.
One explanation is the intervention raised stress levels and did more harm than good.
Experts found men in this group were 37 per cent more likely to die young over the next 30 years if they took fewer than three weeks holiday annually.
Prof Strandberg said: “Men with shorter vacations worked more and slept less than those who took longer vacations. 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 lives.
“Drug treatment yes, but you must always keep lifestyle advice. The most important intervention to lengthen life is social.”
Medics said treatment and advice has now improved compared to the 70s.
Professor Joep Perk, spokesman for the European Society of Cardiology, said people need to relax.
He said: “Asking 95 year old people what was the reason they reached 95, almost always the response I get was, ‘I enjoyed life, I had a nice time’.
“It’s not about chasing risk factors. Don’t forget to enjoy life, you only have one.”
Professor Martin Marshall, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Rest and relaxation can definitely be beneficial for a patient’s long-term physical and mental health and wellbeing.
“However, whilst GPs and our teams often recommend that patients take some time away from work, or go on holiday if they are stressed, we must also be mindful that this is easier said than done for many.”
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Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Everyone is affected by stress. It may be a trigger for smoking, drinking more alcohol and eating unhealthily, which in turn increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease – the most common cause of a heart attack.
“Taking time out can be a great way to relieve tension, but you can also talk to friends and family and use your support network to share any troubles.”
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