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Study: American Women Need More Vacations

Photo taken by Ingrid Müller. There are no usage restrictions for this photo

Women who take frequent vacations sleep better, are more satisfied in marriage, and are less likely to be tense or depressed.

Problem is, most of them aren't even getting one vacation a year.

A new survey of working women found they got away from it all ...

  • Twice a year (23.4 percent)
  • Once a year (34 percent)
  • Once every two to five years (23.2 percent)
  • Once every six years (19.4 percent)

"It's shocking to me that nearly one in five women we studied reported taking a vacation only once in six years," said study leader Cathy McCarty of the Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, Wis.

The odds of depression and tension are higher among women who get away only once in two years compared with women who leave it all behind twice or more per year, the study found. That was no surprise. "Vacations provide a break from everyday stressors," McCarty said. "They allow us time away from work or home and help us release built-up tension."

The results, announced today, are based on surveys of 1,500 working women done in 1996-2001. The details were published recently in the Wisconsin Medical Journal.

While many working Americans get just two weeks of paid vacation a year, the standard is a month or more in many countries. Perhaps employers in the United States should rethink the situation, McCarty figures.

"This study proves vacations are good for your mental health and may help you do a better job at work," McCarty said. "Employers should be supportive of time off because they benefit from having relaxed, happy employees."

Robert Roy Britt
Rob was a writer and editor at Space.com starting in 1999. He served as managing editor of Live Science at its launch in 2004. He is now Chief Content Officer overseeing media properties for the sites’ parent company, Purch. Prior to joining the company, Rob was an editor at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, and in 1998 he was founder and editor of the science news website ExploreZone. He has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University in California.