Vacationing can have a profound effect on your physical and mental health and well-being – it’s why we look forward to that time away! There are different types of vacations, though, and the adventure vacation lifestyle is growing in popularity for all the benefits it brings.
The kind of vacation where you sit at a cottage or resort for a couple of weeks while eating and drinking may be right inside your comfort zone. But even though that vacation can leave you rested and refreshed, you return otherwise unchanged; back to the daily grind at work, it’s as if you were never away at all.
Adventure trips have a dramatically different impact. You’ll return rested and refreshed, of course, but getting outside of your comfort zone and doing something positive and healthy can have long-lasting physical and mental rewards.
Here are 5 health benefits of adventure travel:
1. You’ll Feel Better When You Get Moving
Too often, physical activity is the last thing we make time for in our busy daily lives, and the health effects can be dramatic. Weight gain, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, insomnia – the effects of a sedentary lifestyle are widely documented. Likewise, the physical benefits of traveling are well known, and you won’t spend much time sitting still when you take an expedition to the Arctic or Antarctica!
Hiking, kayaking and even strolling along an Antarctic beach to visit a penguin colony or exploring an abandoned scientific station in the Arctic will kick-start the process of change. You’ll begin feeling muscles you haven’t felt in years, and you’ll quickly start feeling good – possibly even better than you have in ages. A recent U.S. study found that the physical aspects of adventure travel can actually help grow your hippocampus, reducing the risk for memory loss and dementia.
2. Your Brain Will Work Better
The mental boost you get from adventure travel can be even more significant than the physical one. Visiting Antarctica and seeing the last pristine wilderness in the world can profoundly affect your perspective – with time to pause and reflect, your everyday problems may seem insignificant compared with the bigger picture.
Being exposed to the new situations and cultures that travel brings about can also reboot your brain in ways you never thought possible. The daily cares that dominate your thoughts and sap your energy at home hold no sway when you’re watching whales from a kayak!
With a steady supply of fresh air, your body will react positively. You’ll have more energy, and your brain, which requires 20 percent of the oxygen you need, will function better. It’s not just the air that makes a difference: in 2008, U.S. researchers found that spending time in a natural environment actually improves your focus and attention.
3. You’ll Strengthen Your Immune System
Spending time outdoors makes us feel good about ourselves and others, but another one of the health benefits of traveling is an improved immune system. According to a recent Japanese study, a 1-day trip to a suburban park can boost immune activity for a week. Another Japanese study, published in 2010, found that short, leisurely trips to a wilderness area boosted the immune system for more than 30 days.
4. You’ll Improve Your Mood
Travel makes people happier, and happy people have levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, that are 23 percent lower than those of unhappy people. A 2001 study conducted by researchers in the U.S. and Turkey found that when compared with their unhappy counterparts, happier people became healthier over the course of the study.
Photo Courtesy: Sam Crimmin
As the problems of everyday life recede during your Antarctic expedition, you’ll become more and more relaxed. Having less stress and tension clears the way for other experiences and thoughts, and your perspective on everything may start changing for the better.
5. Your Sleep Will Improve
Your mother told you this as a child and it’s still true today: if you get enough fresh air and exercise, you’ll sleep better. Sleep is important to physical and mental health, and when you travel with Quark Expeditions®, there are more than enough activities to keep you busy.
Many of our expeditions include the opportunity to experience wildlife and scenery from the intimate perspective a kayak offers. Hiking can bring you face to face with inquisitive penguins or playful seals. Camping is available on our Antarctic cruises, and as you’ll see from this video, you may not be alone on the 7th continent. Snowshoeing is another option, and if you’re looking for something that no one at home will believe, join your fellow passengers in a polar plunge!
With so much to do during the day, it’s easy to return to “real life” refreshed, rejuvenated and healthier for the experience.
Take your first step toward a healthier, happier you. Check out the options for adventure travel in the Arctic and Antarctic in the new Quark brochure.
You can also download a Destination Guide for Antarctica, Baffin Island, Greenland, Spitsbergen or the North Pole to really dig into the incredible things to do, see and experience on your polar expedition.
About the Author
Amanda is Director of Marketing at Quark Expeditions, a recent MBA grad, and a practitioner of positive psychology. In addition to her passion for travel, Amanda brings to Quark her belief that travel helps people push their growth boundaries, both literally and figuratively, and is always looking to connect with like-minded individuals.More Content by Amanda Wells
Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn here.