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Vacations Improve Health but Americans Skip Them 

Steve Mason/Digital Vision(WASHINGTON) -- Vacations have long been touted as one of the best remedies for improving stress and overall well-being, but not all Americans take them.

Inside Science reports that taking time off is necessary for maintaining good physical and mental health.

"Rest, relaxation, and stress reduction are very important for people's well-being and health. This can be accomplished through daily activities, such as exercise and meditation, but vacation is an important part of this as well," said primary care physician Natasha Withers from One Medical Group in New York.

Withers found that those who took time off had a decreased risk of heart disease and an improved reaction time.

Psychologists also prescribe vacations to help ease the mind. 

"The impact that taking a vacation has on one's mental health is profound," said Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles who specializes in stress and relationship management. "Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out."

But not all Americans are so lucky.

In a survey about vacation time in 2010, conducted by the online travel agency Expedia, the average American reported having 18 vacation days, and only using 14 of them.

In a culture that prides itself on hard work, Americans are more inclined to work better if they decompress every so often.

The Expedia survey revealed that 45 percent of Americans agreed "they come back to work feeling rested, rejuvenated, and reconnected to their personal life" after vacation, and 35 percent said "they return from vacation feeling better about their job and feeling more productive."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio