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Globetrotting Gains

Health benefits of travel

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Globetrotting Gains

Engaging in your wanderlust may be just what the doctor ordered. When it comes to both mental and physical health, travel is a proven remedy. Studies have shown it can relieve tension and stress, strengthen the immune system, allow for a mental reset, improve productivity and focus, and even enhance creativity.

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Why a vacation does a world of good

There are many reasons a getaway can support our health. For instance, vacations are prime time for the extra 60 to 90 minutes of sleep a night the American Psychological Association says can improve both memory and concentration.

Taking a travel chill pill can also result in physical changes: the fight-or-flight stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine are reduced, thereby allowing the immune system to ward off colds, flus, or even heart disease or cancer.

And while active physical activities such as hiking or biking can improve heart and respiratory health, lying down for a massage also has its perks, including improved circulation, flexibility, and immune response.

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Linda and David Holland

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Retirees enjoying the road

Typically spending about six months of the year outside of Canada, Linda and David Holland of Retired and Travelling (<retiredandtravelling.com>) enjoy many of the physical benefits of travel. They’ve always had a thirst for adventure: Linda has done 150 skydives and has piloted a plane; David is an ex-navy diver.

They combine a mix of city wandering, hiking, and outdoor adventures in their travel plans, and are constantly learning―both with research beforehand and while on the trip.

“We’ve travelled to over 100 countries and all seven continents. Friends and family keep asking if we are ‘done,’” says Linda. “But each trip adds more spots to revisit or new destinations. We are in no way close to being finished with our travels.”

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Greg Goodwin

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Pursuing growth in the journeys

Greg Goodwin grew up in what he describes as a tiny town in the middle of nowhere: Atikokan, Northern Ontario, eventually settling in Lethbridge, Alberta, with his husband, where he works at a biotechnology research and distribution company.

Goodwin’s first travel experience abroad, at age 20, was as part of an international exchange program to Kajaani, Finland, where growth challenges were many.

“I quickly realized that I was the only native English speaker, and I was completely out of my element,” says Goodwin. “I would be lying if I said every day was easy, but I absolutely loved the adventure of it all.”

Travel continues to be an important part of his life. “I’ve gained a lot of confidence and comfortability in adversity that has improved my day-to-day life immeasurably,” says Goodwin. “Travel has allowed me to settle into myself, and I’ll be forever grateful for those experiences.”

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Aranka Golphy

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Following dreams; finding healing

Aranka Golphy is an amateur boxer, lawyer, and content creator (Instagram: @boxing_jd), whose severe case of COVID-19 inspired her to take her dream of amateur boxing to the next level. This meant relocating from her home in Thunder Bay, Ontario, to Ocala, Florida, for four months to train with renowned coaches and have access to more female competitors.

She recently visited Tampa to support another female boxer fighting there. While there, she seized the opportunity to visit the nearby Lakeland Antique Mall, following the path of a vlogger whose content helped carry her through her COVID recovery.

Golphy has found experiences like these have made the world feel smaller and helped her heal from the trauma of her COVID experience: “I’ve felt a deep connection that makes me feel I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

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Travel budget tip

When planning your trip, experts recommend estimating the total cost of your vacation. Try to think of any expenses you might incur, and leave a bit of wiggle room for expenses you didn’t anticipate.

Every month, sock some money away into a high-yield savings account earmarked for your vacation. You may want to consider setting up automatic transfers, so you’re not tempted to divert this cash somewhere else.

How “home base” can be a vacation option, too

According to Linda and David Holland, staycations can often be more spontaneous than planned vacations and provide the opportunity for pure relaxation. Their staycations range from staying at a local high-end hotel for a luxurious birthday getaway to exploring the nearby Muskoka region.

When it comes to staycations, opportunities for creativity abound:

·         Camp in your backyard.

·         Pack a picnic and take a hike.

·         Transform your house into a hotel by decorating it with flowers, making snacks and drinks readily available, and living in your robe or yoga pants.

·         Book a spa day with friends.

·         Check out your local museum or art gallery.

·         Sign up for a food tour or eat at a new restaurant.

·         Use ClassPass to explore fitness classes available in your city at a discounted rate.

Sun safety and safe sunscreen

Whether going afar or staying close to home, sun safety is key.

In Canada, more than 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, and ultraviolet radiation is estimated to be associated with 80 to 90 percent of skin cancers.

The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 for most children and adults.

The David Suzuki Foundation indicates that mineral (a.k.a. natural) sunscreens are a safer option that still provides broad-spectrum protection for your skin.

And don’t forget to apply generously: studies show that consumers typically underapply sunscreen, using only 20 to 50 percent of the recommended application.

This article was originally published in the July 2024 issue of alive magazine.

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