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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vacations are Good For Your Health

The United States is the only industrialized country that doesn’t require employers to give workers paid vacation time. In fact, about a quarter of employees in the US don’t receive any paid vacation at all, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

My husband was astonished by this when he moved here from France, where workers get an average of 37 vacation days each year. In contrast, US workers get an average of 14 days off each year.

Not only do Americans not get a lot of paid vacation time, but they don’t even use what they do get. A survey released earlier this year found that, on average, US workers use only half (51%) of their vacation days and some workers (15%) took no vacation days at all. When they do go on vacation, more than half of US workers (61%) do some work while they're away and some (11%) use the time to interview for other jobs.

Vacations aren’t just fun, they’re good for us.

Taking time off and experiencing new environments can help reduce stress, which has been linked to premature aging and all kinds of chronic disease.

Men who take annual vacations are 32% less likely to die of a heart attack and 21% less likely to die from all causes.

Women who take at least two vacations each year are 8 times less likely to develop heart disease or suffer a heart attack compared to women who take vacations once every 6 years or less frequently, regardless of factors like smoking history, income, and chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity. They are also less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired. And they're more satisfied with their marriage.

Taking vacations can even improve work performance, so employees aren't the only ones who benefit. Their employers do too. Some companies are even experimenting with a new concept: unlimited paid time off. So far, these employers say they are happy with the results and they even claim a financial win.

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