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Get away! It’s good for your heart

When it comes to vacations, it really doesn’t matter whether you’re a beachcomber, a happy camper or a couch potato. The point is to take time off, get away from it all and have fun.

Studies show that taking a vacation is more than just a good pastime; it’s actually good for your heart. A vacation may help to reduce lifestyle stressors that contribute to high blood pressure and other conditions that increase the risk for cardiac ailments.

Before you say you couldn’t possibly get away from the office or other responsibilities, consider this: A recent study suggests that people who take annual vacations are less likely to develop heart disease—and live longer—than those who do not. And researchers have found that employees reported fewer physical complaints immediately after a vacation and that their “feel good” attitude lasted more than a month following their return to work.

To reap the benefits of a vacation, it should be just that: a relaxing, stress-free escape from life’s everyday pressures. If visiting relatives in Florida causes you angst, that’s not a getaway. A compromise might be to stop in and see the family on your way to that luxurious resort you’ve dreamed about all year.

Whether your vacation takes you far away or only as far as the backyard, be sure to disconnect the phone, turn off the fax and forget your e-mail. It will do your heart good.