EVERYONE loves a holiday – but did you know a break in the sun is actually good for your health as well as your happiness?
From increasing your sex drive to helping your hair grow and reducing your risk of heart disease – there are loads of benefits to jetting off somewhere exotic.
In fact, recent research revealed over half (53 per cent) of people aged 16-44 agree that the lack of holidays in the last year has negatively impacted their mental health.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun Online, Dr Deborah Lee of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy explains: "A large amount of medical research now shows that taking a vacation can reduce your risk of depression, burnout, and heart disease.
"Indeed, those with the highest amounts of mental and physical work strain appear to have the greatest vacation-related recuperation.
"It doesn't have to be a long holiday – a short vacation can be just as beneficial."
An important argument to remember the next time your boss rejects your holiday request…
We may not be allowed to actually jet abroad right now, but apparently even booking a trip to look forward to in the future can have positive effects on our mental health.
Having something to look forward to can make you feel more motivated and focused, and can also be a great distraction from everyday stresses.
Dr Lee says: "Psychologists believe that the anticipation of a positive event, such as looking forward to a holiday, is important for good mental wellbeing.
"Healthy people look forward to their holiday, which requires forethought and planning. They often reminisce about happy holidays from the past, and the thought of proposed vacation has a positive effect on their mood and emotions."
A trip away is also said to do wonders for your sex life – but don't just take our word for it.
According to a study, Brits apparently have five times more sex on holiday than at home.
Having a lot more time, and feeling more adventurous are among the other reasons travellers can feel particularly frisky on holiday.
Additionally, 60 per cent of Brits feel that their sex life increases while on holiday with a long-term partner, with couples enjoying each others' company without the stresses and strains of everyday life.
Dr Lee explains: "Many couples complain their sex lives are dull and far too samey, so just exchanging your bedroom for a fresh set of walls is a good start.
"Plus, stress-relief, an elevated sense of mood, and the freedom of being away from home and being away on an adventure, are all likely to spark your passion. This is means sex on holiday, tends to be better in quality and quantity."
Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D, which can help lift our mood, boost immunity – and it can also help with hair growth.
Dr Lee explains: "Your hair will tend to grow faster on holiday because warmer weather stimulates the production of keratin – the major protein in hair."
According to Healthline, research has found a lack of vitamin D can cause hair loss, with one study revealing that women 18 to 45 years old who experienced alopecia or other types of hair loss had low levels of vitamin D.
However it is important to remember there is a fine balance between protecting ourselves from sun exposure and absorbing vitamin D, and too much sun can also damage our hair, so it's vital to be sensible in the sun.
Boost your bite
Vitamin D can also keep our bones and teeth healthy, working with calcium to strengthen teeth and reduce risk of tooth decay.
Dr Lee says: "Vitamin D is made in the skin after exposure of the skin to sunlight and U/V B radiation.
"In the UK, sunlight is weak in the winter, the days are short and dark, and there is a tendency for much of the population to be vitamin D deficient.
"However, in the summer, when the days are warmer and longer, the sun is stronger, and vitamin D deficiency is less common.
"Going to warmer climates on holiday provides the UK population with a much-needed vitamin D boost.
"Vitamin D plays a vital role in maintaining strong bones and teeth and is also crucial for a healthy immune system. Vitamin D appears to play a role in our body’s defence against COVID-19."
Dodge death risk
The benefits of that much-sought after trip can even be lifesaving.
Holidays can decrease a person's risk of heart attack and depression as well as improve the health of their brain.
One study showed that men who didn't go away annually had a 20 per cent higher risk of death, and 30 per cent greater risk of death from heart disease.
The average holidaymaker also comes back with lower stress levels and blood pressure.
A study by Nuffield Health discovered among those who went away, blood pressure dropped on average by six per cent.
Dr Lee adds: "According to heart specialists, stress is a recognised cause of high blood pressure. And high blood pressure is a major cause of heart attacks and strokes.
"Going on holiday is a great opportunity to switch off and relax. If you eat well, sleep well, and exercise more, your blood pressure will naturally fall."
A holiday is also proven to improve the quality of sleep.
The same study also revealed sleep quality among participants who went on holiday improved by 17 per cent.
However, a separate poll has revealed it takes at least three days to return to a normal sleep routine after a holiday, due to struggling to readjust and the thought of returning to normal routines.
Beach body shred
Trips away are often the chance to indulge in fine food and the odd glass of wine, but believe it or not, if you're jetting off to sunnier climates, it could be good for weight loss.
According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada, the fat cells beneath your skin actually shrink when they’re exposed to light from the sun.
Alternatively, less sunlight causes the cells to store more fat for warmth.
Silky soft skin
If careful, for people with certain skin conditions the holiday sun can actually be a kind of "medicine".
For example, psoriasis and eczema can cause rashes and lesions, and UV light can help with the healing process, although it is important to always seek the advice of a medical professional first.
Additionally, if opting for a beach holiday, sea salt is full of minerals, including magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium, all of which play a key role in our skin's health, and salt softens cuticles and skin and can strengthen nails.
Dr Lee explains: "It’s well known that bathing in saltwater leads to improvements in many different skin conditions. Anyone suffering from eczema, dermatitis, or other inflammatory skin conditions, is likely to benefit from regular immersion in saltwater."
However, while holidays and sunlight are important to our health and wellbeing, it's important to remember too much of a good thing can be harmful.
Too much sun exposure can age skin, harm hair and sometimes lead to skin cancer, so be sure to be careful and apply sun cream when out and about and follow medical advice.
Dr Lee adds: "Use plenty of sunscreen. You should regularly apply an SPF 50 sunscreen, especially after swimming. Sit in the shade and avoid the midday sun.
"Make sure you also have travel insurance."
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