Health-Related Lifestyle and Patterns of Behavior Related to Health Effects of Leisure Travel

By Toda, Masahiro; Makino, Hiroaki et al. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, March 15, 2007 | Go to article overview

Health-Related Lifestyle and Patterns of Behavior Related to Health Effects of Leisure Travel


Toda, Masahiro, Makino, Hiroaki, Kobayashi, Hidetoshi, Morimoto, Kanehisa, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


Whether or not leisure travel might have positive effects on personal health was investigated. During a short leisure trip, saliva samples were collected from 40 females. Levels of salivary cortisol and chromogranin A (CgA) were evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). To quantitatively evaluate the health-related lifestyle and the patterns of behavior of the subjects, we also administered written questionnaires. For samples taken during the trip, there was a significant increase in the levels of CgA. Meanwhile, there was a significant increase in the levels of cortisol after the tour. These tendencies were more pronounced in individuals who scored well for health-related lifestyle. These findings suggest that the effects of travel were more beneficial for persons with positive characteristics related to health-related lifestyle.

Keywords: travel tours, health-related lifestyle, patterns of behavior, cortisol, chromogranin A(CgA).

Travel is a complete change from everyday life, but whether or not it is actually beneficial has yet to be established by scientific study. A number of researchers have investigated the relationship between travel and health. Their reports, however, have mainly been concerned with the negative aspects of travel, for example, the effects of jet lag (Désir et al., 1981; Katz, Knobler, Laibel, Strauss, & £>urst, 2002) and the risks of air travel such as economy class syndrome (Low & Chan, 2002; Mclntosh, Swanson, Power, Raeside, & Dempster, 1998; Sahiar & Monier, 1994).

In the present study, we examined changes in the salivary endocrinological stress markers over the course of a three-day leisure trip. Evaluation of endocrinological stress markers in saliva, such as cortisol or chromogranin A (CgA), is a very useful method for objectively assessing stress. Furthermore, collection of saliva is a convenient sampling method because it is noninvasive and relatively nonstressful (Kirschbaum & Hellhammer, 1994).

Produced in the adrenal cortex, cortisol is the main glucocorticoid hormone in humans. It is released in response to various psychosocial stimuli via the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The level of cortisol in the saliva accurately reflects the level of active free cortisol in the blood (Kirschbaum & Hellhammer, 1989, 1994). Furthermore, previous studies have suggested that higher levels of cortisol in the morning, the time of the acrophase, are associated with good health (Van Cauter, Leproult, & Kupfer, 1996; Wolf, Fujiwara, Luwinski, Kirschbaum, & Markowitsch, 2005).

CgA is an acidic glucoprotein that is released along with catecholamines from the adrenal medulla and the sympathetic nerve endings (Smith & Kirshner, 1967; Smith & Winkler, 1967; Winkler & Fischer-Colbrie, 1992). A recent study has reported that CgA is produced by human submandibular glands and secreted into saliva (Saruta et al., 2005). Salivary CgA has recently gained attention as a new stress marker (Nakane et al., 1998; Nakane, Asami, Yamada, & Ohira, 2002).

MATERIALS AND METHOD

SUBJECTS

We enrolled forty female volunteers aged 46-77 years old. These women participated in a short package tour (2 nights, 3 days) to Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's main islands. It was a sightseeing tour which involved a short (1 hour) flight and local travel by bus to accommodation in a resort spa.

SALIVA SAMPLING

Two days before departure, daily during the trip, and two days after return from the tour, at waking (6:00-7:00), saliva samples were collected using the Salivette system (Sarstedt Co. Ltd., Numbrecht, Germany). This device extracts saliva samples by centrifuging (at 3,000 rpm for 15 min) the cotton wads that subjects held in their mouths (for 2 min). The samples were stored at -80°C until the assay. Using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), following a previously described method, we evaluated the levels of salivary cortisol and CgA (Nagasawa et al. …

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