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World-first study highlights the benefits of a health retreat visit

A pioneering study has provided evidence that there are numerous health benefits in attending a wellness retreat. A team from Australia’s RMIT University conducted the study on a group of guests attending Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat’s seven-night detox program, publishing the significant results in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Professor Marc Cohen, medical doctor and Professor of Health Sciences who engineered the study, says, “This research shows that health retreat experiences can produce a wide range of physical, psychological and cognitive benefits that last way beyond the retreat itself.”

Wellness Advisor, Sharon Kolkka, says, “The study provides evidence of what we have known for over 15 years.  The transformation we see in guests from the beginning to the end of their week-long stay is remarkable. The results confirm the validity of a retreat experience in maintaining optimum wellness and as a means to address lifestyle imbalances and actively prevent disease.”

The results of the study show that retreat experiences provide a unique opportunity for people to escape from unhealthy routines and engage in healthy practices and activities that lead to immediate and sustained health benefits.

During the study, guests were invited to participate in a number of tests to measure different aspects of their health and wellbeing including general health, dietary habits, depression, anxiety, stress, mood, sleep quality, and self-efficacy. A urine sample was also taken to measure the presence of pesticide metabolites before and after consuming organic freshly prepared meals. These tests were conducted upon arrival and departure, as well as six weeks post-visit.

At the conclusion of the program, average abdominal girth was reduced by 2.7cm and there was an average 1.6kg reduction in weight. All questionnaire scores regarding depression, anxiety, stress, mood and sleep quality indicated statistically significant improvement upon departure, except for health symptom frequency and severity which continued to improve and became statistically significant in the six-week follow-up testing.

Urine tests after the seven-night stay revealed that traces of pesticides present at the start of the program disappeared after a week, highlighting both the benefits of eating organic produce and eating foods to improve the body’s detoxification and elimination pathways. The authors concluded that an integrated lifestyle experience was effective in improving multiple dimensions of health and wellbeing with the participants that were most unhealthy on arrival experiencing the greatest improvements.

The research suggests that the element of digital detox as well as Gwinganna’s daily schedule supporting circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) recalibration contributed to the improvements in perceived stress and sleep.

One of Gwinganna’s foundational principles is delivering evidence-based educational content whilst providing guests with an experiential preventative approach to maintaining their wellness. Professor Cohen added, “Retreat experiences that engage people in healthy lifestyle practices need to be considered seriously by the medical profession and health insurers as ways to combat the epidemic of lifestyle-related chronic disease."

“Publishing research on the multiple health and wellbeing benefits of a week-long wellness retreat, including proof that the results are sustained for up to six weeks after the experience, is critical in helping the wellness industry better communicate the value of immersive wellness stays,” says Susie Ellis, Chairman and CEO of the Global Wellness Institute, a non-profit organisation with a mission to empower wellness worldwide by educating public and private sectors about preventative health and wellness. “The Global Wellness Institute applauds RMIT University for its commitment to wellness research.”

About Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat: Gwinganna stands apart as the ultimate wellness destination that will inspire the desire to live a healthier life. Located in southeast Queensland’s scenic hinterland on over 200 hectares, it offers the most choices of fully inclusive programs. Packages are from two to seven days or longer and include accommodation, all activities, selected spa and wellness therapies, delicious organic cuisine, wellness seminars and the use of extensive facilities including the Spa Sanctuary, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.



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