Why you should use your vacation time

As Americans we get very little vacation time. This 2007 chart from the World Tourism Organization showing nine countries indicates that on average, Americans are granted 16 fewer days (math: the numbers in the table add up to 265, divide by nine and you get 29.4, minus 13 equals 16.4) than the other countries listed.

Yet, many Americans don’t take what little time they have. Largely because of Vacation Guilt and fear that spending time away from the office will have serious career repercussions. But are those career repercussions worth more than your overall health and happiness?

A study published in 2000 in Psychosomatic Medicine, the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Psychosomatic Society, found that taking regular vacations is associated with a longer, healthier life. Vacations can be a break from stress, a time to relax and reconnect with loved ones.

With proper planning, even just a long weekend away from the office can do wonders and not just for those three or four days. In fact, a study, published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, showed  the largest boost in happiness is in planning the vacation. “The effect of vacation anticipation boosted happiness for eight weeks,” this New York Times article states.

Eight weeks of happiness for planning a camping trip or a beach visit? Who could say no to that?

Working out at Work

Photo from: MBA Podcaster's blog
Most of us have desk jobs. We sit for at least eight hours a day. Personally, I noticed a difference in my health and happiness when I went from carefree college student to desk dweller. No more walking to and from class. No more general running around. I had no idea how much that change in activity was going to affect me.

The first step in any process is to acknowledge there needs to be a change. I once worked at a great location that had a locker room complete with shower. That allowed me to run a few miles over lunch and not be too gross to sit next to for the next four hours.

That kind of set up is an anomaly. Sure there are a few places where there’s a gym on site or where one is within super close distance to he office, but that really isn’t feasible for me. I can’t get there, work out, shower and get back in only 60 minutes.

My solution was to make working out after work a priority. It’s made a difference, but there’s still that antsy feeling I get when I sit too long typing away at a computer. We had a walking group for about a week, until the timing didn’t work with everyone’s schedule. I realized it is entirely up to me to try to be active (without sweating) at work.

I brought in a swiss ball. I’ve brought in hand weights and bands. I intend to spend my two allotted 15 minute breaks lifting weights. I hope this helps that antsy feeling. I’ve heard it can also help with concentration and can wake you up more than a cup of coffee.

How do you keep fit (or not) at the office?