Researchers have examined the possibility of travel therapy having a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing and this could change the way we look at holidays as just fun time, but rather something that provides long term health benefits.
The new cross-disciplinary paper from Edith Cowan University (ECU) proposes we change the way we view tourism, seeing it not just as a recreational experience but as an industry that can provide real health benefits. Researchers found many aspects of going on holiday could have a positive impact on those with mental health issues or conditions. The team behind the study involved those from tourism, public heath and marketing experts.
Researchers say that the varied nature of tourism meant there were many opportunities to incorporate treatments for conditions such as dementia. For example, being in new environments and having new experiences could provide cognitive and sensory stimulation.
Exercise has been linked to mental wellbeing and travelling often involves enhanced physical activity, such as more walking. Mealtimes are often different on holiday: they’re usually more social affairs with multiple people and family-style meals have been found to positively influence dementia patients’ eating behaviour. And then there’s the basics like fresh air and sunshine increasing vitamin D and serotonin levels. Everything that comes together to represent a holistic tourism experience, makes it easy to see how patients with dementia may benefit from tourism as an intervention, researchers said.