Americans are known to skimp on vacation time or, barring that, to work right through them. But you should holiday early and often, medical researchers say. Not only is it good for your overall wellbeing, but it’s good for your heart, new research says.

“What we found is that people who vacation more frequently in the past 12 months have a lowered risk for metabolic syndrome and metabolic symptoms,” said study co-author Bryce Hruska, a professor at Syracuse University, in a release. “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.”

Symptoms of metabolic syndrome include having a large waistline, or an “apple-shaped” body; high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low levels of HDL cholesterol (make sure to get your blood checked), and a high fasting blood sugar level (100 mg/dL or more). Metabolic symptoms can be changed or eliminated, said Hruska, so if you’re high-risk, you can turn your health around now by booking a flight to anywhere.

The exact link between taking a vacation and improving heart health isn’t known, but Hruska stressed that one of the most important takeaways of the study is that vacation time is “available to nearly 80% of full-time employees, but fewer than half utilize all the time available to them. Our research suggests that if people use more of this benefit… it would translate into a tangible health benefit.”

If you can’t fully get away right now, check out our spots where you can squeeze in a long weekend, and see our tips creating work-life balance by building mini-vacations into your week.

Originally published on The Ladders.

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