We all know vacations are good for us, yet more than 40% of working Americans leave seven or more days of paid vacation on the table. The result is that as many as one billion vacation days go unused every year, resulting in a workforce that is less productive, less satisfied, and less healthy. 

"As an emergency room doctor, I see patients at a point where preventive treatment is no longer an option," says Dr. Leigh Vinocur, a board certified emergency physician and national spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians. "Many of their health issues could be avoided by circumventing stress.  And one of the biggest stressors in America is overwork. We do not take time for ourselves. Time that allows us to unwind and de-stress."

Dr. Vinocur's prescription to treat this long list of ailments? Take regular vacations. Following are some of the benefits of making regular vacations a New Year's resolution:

Regular vacations can prevent a heart attack

It is well documented that stress contributes to heart disease. Over time, chronic stress from the competing demands of your work, finances and home life takes its toll. 

Stress can contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure, which can cause a heart attack. 

In addition, depression is also linked to heart disease and stress. 

Regular vacations can make you smarter

Studies find that chronic stress can actually modulate a part of your brain that inhibits goal-directed activity and can cause problems with memory. 

This affects work performance, which in turn creates more stress. 

71% of respondents in a Nielsen Study say they are better at their jobs when they regularly take a vacation. 

Regular vacations can improve your sex life

Many lose interest in sex or have performance issues when worried about work and financial pressures. 

Chronic stress and higher cortisol levels are associated with lower sex hormone levels, such as testosterone, that contribute to loss of libido.

80% of respondents in the Nielsen Study who were on vacation, or regularly took time to vacation, reported increased romance in their relationship, which translates into more and better sex, and making "vacation sex" a real phenomenon.

Regular vacations may help you lose weight

We don’t always eat simply to satisfy hunger. We also turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward.

Over 75% of respondents in a vacation study reported positive feelings and extreme happiness while on vacation, helping to break the overeating cycle, at least temporarily. 

Regular vacations are good for the whole family

Planning and taking regular vacations, including stay-at-home vacations, helps the whole family.

Staycations are an an easy and cheap way to do something special, get your mind off of your daily grind, and best of all, to connect with one another.

Vacations have the potential to break many of our stress cycles. With the chance to relax with family and friends, and temporarily laying aside the daily routines, we emerge from a successful vacation feeling ready to take on the world again. 

Good luck with the New Year's Resolutions, and the vacation planning