Give Your Heart a Break

If you've been working overtime lately, it's time to sit down, take a few deep breaths — and call your travel agent. Recent research presented at the American Psychosomatic Society annual meeting in Savannah, Ga., says that taking yearly vacations may be one key to longer, better health.

Researchers at State University of New York at Oswego surveyed annually for five years 13,000 middle-aged men with high risk of heart disease, investigating their vacation patterns. Results showed that holiday-bound men were almost 20 percent less likely to die from overall causes and 30 percent less likely to die from heart disease during the next nine years than men skipping the yearly escape.

"It may be that a brief vacation is particularly restorative because it represents a distinct time when we are — at least potentially — free of stress and engaged in restorative activities, such as exercise and getting sleep," suggests study author and psychologist Brooks B. Gump. Previous research found that vacationing protects women against heart disease as well, so book a flight for two.

— Angela Pirisi