As a four-day work week is trialled in countries across the globe, health researchers at the University of South Australia say they’re ‘all in’ when it comes to a long weekend, especially as new empirical research shows that the extra time off is good for our health. Assessing changes in daily movements before, during and after holidays, researchers found that people displayed more active, healthy behaviours when they were on holiday, even when they only had a three-day break“In this study, we found that movement patterns changed for the better when on holiday, with increased physical activity and decreased sedentary behaviour observed across the board,” says UniSA researcher, Dr Ferguson.
“We also found that people gained an extra 21 minutes of sleep each day they were on holiday, which can have a range of positive effects on our physical and mental health. For example, getting enough sleep can help improve our mood, cognitive function, and productivity. It can also help lower our risk of developing a range of health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression. Interestingly, the size of these changes increased in line with the length of the holiday – so the longer the holiday, the better the health benefits.
Importantly, the study also showed that even after a short holiday, people’s increased sleep remained elevated for two weeks, showing that the health benefits of a three-day break can have lasting effects beyond the holiday itself.
This study provides empirical evidence that people have healthier lifestyle patterns when they have a short break, such as a three-day weekend. This increase in physical activity and sleep is expected to have positive effects on both mental and physical health, contributing to the benefits observed with a four-day work week.
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