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Three day work week study

Three Day Weekend Could Mean a Happier, Healthier You

How does “less stress, burnout, fatigue, as well as better mental health and improved work-life balance” sound to you? Well, according to Senior researcher Prof Carol Maher from the University of South Australia, “a shorter working week” is how we get there. Using data from the Annual Rhythms in Adults’ Lifestyle and Health (ARIA) study, scientists have made the groundbreaking discovery that “people have healthier lifestyle patterns when they have a short break, such as a three-day weekend.”

Honestly, it’s not surprising to us since we all know that all work and no play make us dull people. But what astonishes us is how much things can improve with a four-day workweek/ a three-day weekend.

And since we Aussies have had the pleasure of two back-to-back four-day weeks thanks to Easter long weekend, we wanted to highlight the benefits, just in case you wanted to pass them on to your boss in the next quarterly review.

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Three day work week study university of south australia 2

A recent empirical study has revealed that extra time off is good for our health. | Image: Supplied

Health researchers at the University of South Australia say they’re ‘all in’ on a long weekend, with a recent empirical study revealing that the extra time off is good for our health.

“When people take a three-day break, they tend to display more active, healthy behaviours,” says UniSA researcher Dr Ferguson. The researchers found that people engaged in 13% more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) daily, were 5% less sedentary, and slept 4% more daily.

According to Dr Fegurson, people display healthier behaviours on holiday because “they’re changing their everyday responsibilities”, or in other words, “they’re not locked down to their normal schedule”.

The study saw improved “movement patterns” when on holiday, “with increased physical activity and decreased sedentary behaviour observed across the board.”

And get this – people gain an extra 21 minutes of sleep each day they are on holiday, which can have a range of positive effects on our physical and mental health. That’s like getting two free hits of the snooze button. Not only that, but the size of these changes increased in line with the length of the holiday. So the longer the holiday, the better the health benefits!

The study used data from the ARIA study, where 308 adults (mean age 40.4 years) wore fitness trackers 24 hours a day for 13 months. Minute-by-minute movement behaviour data was aggregated into daily totals to compare movement behaviours pre-holiday, during, and post-holiday.

Prof Maher says 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.”

Just like you and I, he’s dreaming of a world that embraces “the long weekend as a way to boost our physical and mental health.”

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