Researchers have provided scientific evidence that it’s possible to reduce the risk of heart disease simply by getting out of the office and taking a holiday.

British workers may never have needed any evidence that taking time away from work and going on their summer holiday is a good thing, but now a new study by scientists at Syracuse University in New York has confirmed what we’ve always suspected.

Led by Dr Bryce Hruska, the study found people can reduce their metabolic symptoms — and therefore their risk of cardiovascular disease — simply by going on holiday.

Doctors will diagnose metabolic syndrome when a person has three or more of five metabolic symptoms, based on the following measurements:

  • a waist circumference of greater than 40in (101cm) in men and greater than 35in (88cm) in women

  • a triglyceride level (which measures fat in the blood) of 150 milligrams per decilitre of blood (mg/dL) or greater

  • less than a certain level of “good” cholesterol, ie less than 40mg/dL of high-density lipoprotein in men or less than 50mg/dL in women

  • blood pressure where the top (systolic) number is greater than of 130mm of mercury or where the bottom (diastolic) blood pressure number is 85mm of mercury or more

  • fasting glucose of 100mg/dL or more.

Dr Hruska said, "What we found is that people who vacationed more frequently in the past 12 months have a lowered risk for metabolic syndrome and metabolic symptoms.

"Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. If you have more of them you are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. This is important because we are actually seeing a reduction in the risk for cardiovascular disease the more vacationing a person does.

“Because metabolic symptoms are modifiable, it means they can change or be eliminated."

Comment by David Price, Health Assured CEO and workplace wellbeing expert

Taking a break from work and going on holiday is crucial to maintaining good mental health. Going on holiday gives both the mind and body the opportunity to reset and recover. Responding to work emails at all hours and dealing with stress at work can lead to burnout, anxiety, depression and even more physical symptoms like aches, chest pains and stomach issues. Wellbeing should be the foundation of any workplace health policy and promoting the importance of switching off from work is a key part of that.

Last reviewed 26 June 2019