Earlier this year, one of the world’s biggest trials of a four-day working week showed that it helps employees and companies stay more productive. The 4 Day Week Global study conducted in over 60 companies in Britain revealed that absenteeism and the number of staff leaving fell sharply when four day work week was adopted. Importantly, “significant” increases were observed in physical and mental health, and overall life and job satisfaction.
Now, a new study has reiterated that extra time off is good for health. Health researchers at the University of South Australia ( UniSA) said they're 'all in' when it comes to a long weekend, according to the university’s press statement. In an empirical study, the researchers assessed changes in daily movements during and after holidays and found that people were more active and displayed healthier behaviours after a three-day break.
This study used data from the Annual Rhythms in Adults' Lifestyle and health (ARIA) study wherein 308 adults aged around 40 years wore fitness trackers all day (24 hours) for 13 months.
The findings showed that while on holiday, people engaged in 13% more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day, were less sedentary, and slept more.
"When people go on holiday, they're changing their everyday responsibilities because they're not locked down to their normal schedule," said UniSA researcher Dr Ty Ferguson in the statement. The study also found that movement patterns changed for the better during holidays with more increased physical activity and less sedentary behaviour.
People also slept for 21 minutes more which can have a positive impact on mental health, improve 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,” Ferguson noted.
Moreover, the findings showed that the size of these changes increased consistently with the length of the holiday indicating that the longer the holiday, the better the health benefits.
Senior researcher UniSA's Prof Carol Maher said that the study supports the growing movement for a four-day week. "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.”
Interestingly this study showed that people's increased sleep after a three-day break remained elevated for two weeks, indicating that the health benefits are lasting effects.