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A four-day workweek can lead to better health and increase productivity

According to a new empirical study of researchers from the University of South Australia, having a shorter workweek and more leisure time can have beneficial effects on people's well-being and overall health.

The study found that individuals tend to engage in more active and healthier behaviors before, during, and after a vacation, even if they have only three consecutive days off.

During the 13-month study, participants took an average of two to three vacations, with each vacation lasting approximately twelve days. Outdoor recreation was the most common activity during vacations, accounting for 35 percent of the participants' leisure time. Family or social events were the next most popular at 31 percent, while activities focused on rest and relaxation, such as caring for others or renovating their homes, accounted for 17 percent of the vacation activities.

Interestingly, during their vacations, the study participants exhibited significantly higher levels of physical activity. They engaged in 13 percent more moderate to intense physical activity for at least five minutes per day. Additionally, they spent 29 minutes less per day in sedentary activities, which represented a 5 percent reduction. Furthermore, the participants slept an average of 21 minutes more per day, reflecting a 4 percent increase in sleep duration.

Sleeping more leads to a healthier lifestyle

Researcher Ty Ferguson suggests that individuals tend to adopt healthier behaviours during their vacations, mainly because of the quality of their sleep. Satisfactory sleep not only enhances mood, cognitive abilities, and productivity but also plays a role in lowering the risk of several ailments such as obesity, cardiovascular conditions, and depression. Ferguson further emphasizes that the magnitude of these transformations escalates proportionally with the duration of the vacation, indicating that longer vacations yield more significant health advantages.

The researchers examined data from the "ARIA" study, where 308 adults with an average age of 40.4 wore fitness trackers continuously for 13 months. The collected data was consolidated into daily metrics to compare the levels of physical activity before, during, and after vacations. According to the principal investigator, Carol Maher, this study provides support for the increasing movement promoting a four-day workweek. Detailed findings were published in the "International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity."

The four-day workweek is being experimented with in an expanding range of countries. If the pilot project in the United Kingdom, one of the largest in the world, is any indication, more companies will embrace the concept of a long weekend.

Based on a report published in February 2023, 40 percent of the approximately 2,900 employees from 61 participating companies reported a decrease in sleep issues or insomnia. Moreover, 56 of these companies plan to continue implementing the four-day workweek. What is even more noteworthy is that 18 companies intend to make this arrangement a permanent fixture.

This article is from the 2/2023 issue of the magazine "Life Abroad".

The magazine is published four times a year free of charge with many informative articles on foreign topics.

It is published by the BDAE, the expert for protection abroad.