Researchers at the Tohoku University Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer (IDAC) are taking an innovative approach to finding out what makes people happy and healthy—and whether or not certain activities help our brains stay sharp as we age.
Neuroscience professor Dr. Yasuyuki Taki and his colleagues from IDAC have partnered with a local travel agency to examine whether or not frequent travel may increase feelings of happiness as well as help protect against a decline in brain health in older adults. The researchers will continue to gather information on senior travelers using detailed questionnaires as well as magnetic resonance imaging to look at changes in the brain.
“We built the hypothesis that a person who travels often has a higher subjective well-being and a higher ability to cope with stress and cognitive brain functions than a person who travels less often,” said a member of the study team. Based on their initial questionnaire, study authors have already determined that the more time seniors spend traveling, the happier they tend to be.
More Good News for Frequent Travelers
With the exception of traveling over the holidays—which tends to leave many of us stressed out and more tired than usual—a similar study confirms that vacationers tend to be happier on average than non-vacationers, especially in the months and weeks preceding a trip.
The study, conducted by Dr. Jeroen Nawijn with the NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands, focused on variables such as the duration of the vacation, stress levels before and after the trip, overall health status and personality traits. (Side note: The study found that extroverts are generally happier and tend to be more adventurous in their vacation destination choices.)
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