Researchers have claimed, even if you work hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle, having less than three weeks’ holiday each year makes you more likely to die young.
The results of a study, which began in the 1970s, were presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Munich.
It focused on 1,222 middle-aged men born between 1919 and 1934, who were at risk of heart disease due to factors such as high blood pressure, smoking or being overweight.
Half were told to exercise, enjoy a good diet, stop smoking or keep to a healthy weight.
By contrast, the other half were given no advice.
Intriguingly, those given the regular advice were more likely to die young, with experts suggesting they could have suffered extra stress by trying to live a healthy lifestyle.
They had the traditional signs of a healthy heart but died early from a variety of illnesses.
Among the same group, those who took less than three weeks off each year were 37% more likely to die young over the next 30 years.
“Don’t think having an otherwise healthy lifestyle will compensate for working too hard and not taking holidays,” said Professor Timo Strandberg, of the University of Helsinki, Finland.
“Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress.”
He added: “The harm caused by the intensive lifestyle regime was concentrated in a subgroup of men with shorter yearly vacation time.
“In our study, men with shorter vacations worked more and slept less than those who took longer vacations.
“This stressful lifestyle may have overruled any benefit of the intervention. We think the intervention itself may also have had an adverse psychological effect on these men by adding stress to their lives.”
In the UK, almost all full-time workers are entitled to at least 28 days’ paid holiday per year, the equivalent of 5.6 weeks.
The NHS recommends taking a break or a holiday as a means of tackling stress.