People who work a four-day week are less likely to develop health complications compared to those working a five-day week, a new study suggests.

Academics from the University of South Australia have found that individuals are more active when they have a long weekend as opposed to a standard two-day weekend.

The research team detected that people on holiday are 13% more likely to be physically active compared to when they are working.

In addition, they have found that people sleep around 21 minutes longer when they are on holiday compared to when they are at home working.

Lead author Dr Ty Ferguson said: “When people go on holiday, they’re changing their everyday responsibilities because they’re not locked down to their normal schedule.

“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.”

He added: “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 help lower our risk of developing a range of health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression.”

He concluded: “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.”

During the study, the team of scientists looked at data from a previous trial which analysed the health of 308 people who wore a fitness device.

The researchers found good evidence to suggest that a four-day working week is beneficial for your health.

Joint author Professor Carol Maher said: “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.”

She added: “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.”

She concluded: “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.”

The study has been published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

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