Can a vacation raise your immunity?
In fact, researchers from Queen Mary University in London recently discovered that mice who were living in an “enriched environment” for as little as two weeks showed a dramatic change in their T cells (cells that create antibodies to defend against bacteria, viruses, etc.). Because issues such as geographical location, psychological state and social status can play a heavy role in many autoimmune disorders, the scientists wanted to learn more about how environmental factors affect T cells.
They kept the control group of mice in a standard cage with no extra amenities. The other group, meanwhile, were housed in larger cages with additional nesting materials and toys such as a running wheel and fabric tube. This second group was found to be better prepared to fight off disease.
“This effect is remarkable because we haven’t given them any drugs,” Professor Fulvio D’Acquisto, lead study researcher from QMUL told the BBC. “You could say that we’ve just put them in their equivalent of a holiday resort for two weeks and let them enjoy their new and stimulating surroundings.”
So what does this mean for you? Do you need a large hotel room overlooking a bright array of fall foliage to keep you healthy? Whether or not this outcome transfers to humans requires further study.
It may not hurt to give it a try, though. According to the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off, 55 percent of Americans didn’t take all of their vacation days in 2015.
“Stress can impact us physically, cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally,” says Dr. Kevin Krippner, psychologist with Advocate Medical Group at Advocate BroMenn Outpatient Center in Bloomington, Ill. “You should have a menu of things that allow you to manage your stress. A change in environment for a period of time could be what you need to recharge in all of these areas.”
About the Author
Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.