Three people at the beach

UniSA research shows a long weekend is good for your health

An empirical research study from the University of South Australia shows that people displayed more active and healthy behaviours when they were on holiday, even when they only had a three-day break. 

The study used data from the Annual rhythms in adults’ lifestyle and health (ARIA) study, where 308 adults wore fitness trackers for 24 hours a day for 13 months.

“Through this study, we’re confident that people would have healthier lifestyle patterns if a four-day week was introduced.”
Professor Carol Maher, Researcher, UniSA

Minute-by-minute data on subjects’ movement behaviour was aggregated into daily totals to compare movement behaviours pre-holiday, during holiday and post-holiday.

Specifically, the UniSA research determined that, while on holiday, people: 
engaged in 13 per cent more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day 
were five per cent less sedentary each day  
slept four per cent more each day.

UniSA researcher Dr Ty Ferguson explains how some of these changes can positively impact our health.

“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,” Dr Ferguson says.

“These things can have a range of positive effects…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.”

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 and, not surprisingly, employees have reported less stress, burnout, fatigue, as well as better mental health and improved work-life balance,” Prof Maher says.

“Through this study, we’re confident that people would have healthier lifestyle patterns if a four-day week was introduced.

“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.” 

Image: Dmitry Molchanov/