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Whether you visit a yoga retreat, try a surf camp or just get some much needed R&R on the beach, Costa Rica is an excellent heart-healthy destination for your next vacation.

With zero trans fat and a wealth of free vitamin D, a trip to Costa Rica might just be what the doctor ordered to get you in a healthy state of mind and body. According to Conde Naste Traveler’s September 2009 article “Your Next Vacation Could Save Your Life”, denying yourself vacation can lead to negative changes in your health and wellbeing.

Even the anticipation of going on vacation helps people to de-stress and improve their emotional health. While on vacation, travelers tend to get more sleep, try a broader range of foods, get out in the sun more and perform an increased amount of physical activity.

According to a 16-year study published by the State University of New York, Oswego in 2000, male patients at risk of heart disease who did not take an annual vacation had a 30 percent greater chance of dying from a heart attack than those who did.

Of course certain vacation habits like excessive drinking, self-inflicted sun poisoning, or spreading your time so thin you end up with no sleep or energy, are not exactly ideal when you’re in need of a recharge. It is important that you choose your destination and activities well and don’t forget to schedule in plenty of down time to relax.

So does Costa Rica fit the ticket for the perfect rejuvenating getaway? Taking the following points into consideration, the country might just be the perfect cure for depression, heart problems, obesity and more! It sure beats going to the gym…

1. World Class Spas & Yoga Retreats — From Arenal’s natural volcanic mud treatments to ocean front massage opportunities on the Nicoya Peninsula and yoga retreats paired with surf schools in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica is a health nut’s paradise. From the exotic to the tried and true, you are never too far from pure relaxation while traveling around the country. Sample Tabacon’s ayurvedic cuisine or a hot stone massage at Reserva Conchal and say goodbye to unwanted toxins and bad vibes.

2. A Jet Setter’s Dream — Costa Rica is less than 3 hours flying from main U.S. hubs like Miami and Dallas and direct flights leave from most of the major cities including Denver, Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., Orlando, Boston and more. That means instead of spending your first day dreary-eyed and jet-lagged, you can head straight to the beach or on a tour.

3. Sunshine – We weren’t joking about that vitamin C. As Brits will attest, a little bit of sun goes a long way! Let your body store up on this essential vitamin while you work on your jealousy-inspiring tan. There are worse ways to care for your health — just don’t forget the suntan lotion!

4. Fresh Air — Most visitors are shocked when they first witness the endless plots of undeveloped land that anchor this tiny eco-conscience nation. More than 25% of it is actually government protected in national parks and wildlife reserves, while so many more acres remain untouched. Be it a cool Guanacaste evening or a night of start watching on the Caribbean coast, you can’t help but breath deep and enjoy a heightened feeling of purity and freshness.

5. Fresh Food — The fruit salad you order here didn’t spend 3 weeks frozen in a cargo container before reaching your supermarket shelves. Costa Rica is known for its fresh produce which includes avocados, mangos, papaya, coffee, bananas and more. Local coastal cuisine is also infused with fresh seafood, while protein-rich black beans are a staple throughout the country.

6. Natural Thermal Hot Springs — The prevalence of active volcanoes in Costa Rica has brought with it naturally heated rivers throughout the center of the country. Imagine taking a dip in a natural river or one of the many landscaped hot springs properties. You can feel your worries melt away as the warm water and steam open your pores and relax your muscles. No wonder they are fabled to have healing powers according to local lore.

7. Adventure Sports – Depending on your level of fitness, a trip to Costa Rica doesn’t have to be just lounging around dining on fresh fruits — the dynamic landscapes and plentiful coastline have given way to a wide availability of adventure sports as well. Try your hand at surfing in Tamarindo, ocean or river kayaking, white water rafting down the Pacuare or even kite surfing on Lake Arenal. Even a refreshing hike to see exotic wildlife or a stroll down the beach may be an improvement on your regular home exercise regime!

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