'Travel therapy' could improve your mental health

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Travel therapy could improve mental health
Travel therapy could improve mental health
Photo: David Lees/Getty Images

A new cross-disciplinary paper from Edith Cowen University suggests we change the way we look at tourism so that we view it as a way to improve our health, as well as a chance to get away and relax.

Dr Jun Wen led a diverse team of tourism, public health and marketing experts who investigated how tourism could benefit those living with dementia.

"Medical experts can recommend dementia treatments such as music therapy, exercise, cognitive stimulation, reminiscence therapy, sensory stimulation and adaptations to a patient's meal times and environment," said Dr Wen.

"These are all also often found when on holiday."

READ MORE | How science says you could be happier

Dr Wen said 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," Dr Wen added.

"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 with vitamin D and serotonin levels."

The scientist said he hopes a new life of collaborative research can enhance the lives of people with various mental conditions.

"Tourism has been found to boost physical and psychological wellbeing. So, after Covid, it's a good time to identify tourism's place in public health -- and not just for healthy tourism, but vulnerable groups."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.