Enjoyed a few long weekends lately? Perhaps you’re considering making the switch to a four-day week. Well good for you! New empirical research shows that extra time off is good for our health – both mental and physical. That’s because when we’re out of our regular routine, we’re more likely to get extra sleep and be more active. These wise words come from a team of researchers at the University of South Australia who assessed changes in daily movements before, during and after holidays. Across 13-months, people generally took an average two to three holidays, each being around 12 days. The most common holiday type was ‘outdoor recreation’ (35%), followed by ‘family/social events’ (31%), ‘rest and relaxation’ (17%) and ‘non-leisure pursuits’ such as caring for others or home renovations (17%). Specifically, the researchers found that while on holiday people: Engaged in 13% more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) each day (or five min/day more), Were 5% less sedentary each day (or 29 min/day less), and Slept 4% more each day (or 21 min/day more). Work Less For Health Improvements “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 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. “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.” Embrace the Four Day Working Week Senior researcher UniSA’s Prof Carol Maher says that the study offers support for the growing movement for a four-day week. “A shorter working week is being trialled by companies all over the world. Not surprisingly, employees reported less stress, burnout, fatigue, as well as better mental health and improved work-life balance,” Prof Maher says. “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. “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. “As the world adapts to a new normal, perhaps it’s time to embrace the long weekend as a way to boost our physical and mental health.” Access Support to Get You There If you’re keen to work a four-day week but you don’t know how you’ll fit all the admin in, look no further than The Ayers Group. Our experts are here to provide solutions that will lower the burden of daily administration – for example, our online portal makes it simple to manage your contracts with easy timesheets, invoicing, expense claims and more. Talk to an expert at the Ayers Group today to find out more.