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Men's Health and Wellness SECTION 1 - Health Check
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Vacations Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

Here's a fun way to live longer: Use up your vacation days.

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Got some vacation time built up? Forget whatever excuses you've been using for not taking it, and plan a mini holiday. Right now! Research shows that regular getaways may increase longevity by preventing heart disease. In fact, men in a nine-year study who took at least one vacation per year were almost 30% less likely to die from a heart-related cause compared with the men who kept their noses to the grindstone.

Holiday for Your Heart
The study tracked the health of 12,000 middle-aged men who were at high risk for heart disease and surveyed them to see how many vacations they took each year. Regardless of the men's overall health and income, their risk of dying from heart disease was clearly connected to their willingness to take a break. Researchers suspect that vacation-takers may have better heart health because time off helps reduce stress -- one of the biggest contributors to heart disease. Vacation time also provides opportunities to do other good-for-your-health things, like reconnecting with family and friends, and pursuing fulfilling interests.

Planned Relaxation
Keep in mind, vacations don't have to be extensive or expensive. Even a short weekend away -- or one night -- can be restorative. In fact, the study didn't measure the length of the participants' vacations. And you don't have to wait for a vacation to start managing stress better. Start relaxing more right now with daily stress-reduction strategies, such as deep breathing, meditation, and positive visualization.