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Study’s findings support recent push for a shorter workweek

Photo: atakan/iStockphoto

Adelaide, Australia — It’s time to embrace the three-day weekend as a way to boost workers’ physical and mental health, a recent study out of Australia suggests.

Researchers from the University of South Australia asked more than 300 adults to wear 24-hour fitness trackers for 13 months. Findings show that, while on vacation, the participants engaged in 13% more moderate to vigorous physical activity, were 5% less sedentary and slept 21 minutes more a day than during their workweeks.

These positive effects were seen not only on vacations but during three-day weekends, lead study author Carol Maher, a professor of population and digital health at the university, said in a press release.

“A shorter working week is being trialed by companies all over the world,” Maher said. “Not surprisingly, employees reported less stress, burnout, fatigue, as well as better mental health and improved work-life balance. 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 workweek. Importantly, our 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.”

The study was published online in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

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