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J Travel Med. 2004 Sep-Oct;11(5):300-4.

Vacation at moderate and low altitude improves perceived health in individuals with metabolic syndrome.

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Department of Physiology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



Recent data suggest that vacation may improve cardiovascular health, an effect possibly moderated by altitude. The aim of the present study was to study the effect of a 3-week vacation at moderate and low altitude on perceived health in individuals with increased cardiovascular risk.


Seventy-two overweight males, both occupationally active and retired (mean age=56.6 +/- 7.2 years), with signs of metabolic syndrome were randomly assigned to identical sojourns at either moderate (1,700 m) or low (300 m) altitude and engaged in four 3- to 4-h heart-rate-controlled hiking tours per week. Perceived health was measured 2 weeks before vacation, at the beginning and end of vacation, and 7 weeks after vacation.


Fitness, recreational ability, positive and negative mood and social activities improved during vacation, independent of altitude and occupational status, although the day-to-day improvement in quality of sleep was delayed at moderate altitude. During the follow-up examinations, improvements in all reported aspects of health except for social activities were maintained. In comparison to retired individuals, active individuals showed a greater long-term improvement in social activities.


Vacation positively affects perceived health independent of altitude or occupational status in generally inactive overweight males.

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