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Happy Fourth of July

Jul. 4, 2016 Huffington Post

Three-day weekends are what summer is all about. We need those extra hours for traveling farther, grilling longer and taking in more sunsets. But did you know that the time-honored tradition is also good for your health? Here’s your cheat sheet for convincing your boss to extend the goodness of the three-day weekend all year long:

1. Planning short vacations throughout the year can preserve employee well-being.

Taking short vacations could be the key to workplace happiness, especially if you take them regularly.

Employees who took four- to five-day vacations experienced health and well-being improvements, according to a small study published in the journal Stress and Health in 2011. And you know what makes for a nice four-day vacay? A long weekend and a Friday off.

And while the positive effects faded once the vacation came to a close, researchers found that the more relaxed and psychologically detached from work the participants were during their vacations, the better they felt when they returned.

(A warning to chronic email checkers: Study participants who spent time on work-related activities during their vacation experienced lower levels of health and well-being in the days after they returned home.) 

2. Working long hours can be dangerous for your health.

Should you find yourself tied to your desk over the long weekend, know that you aren’t doing your body any favors.  

A study published in the medical journal the Lancet in August found that workers who put in 55 hours per week or more had a 33 percent greater risk of stroke and a 13 percent greater risk of heart disease than those who worked a standard 40-hour week. 

“It was surprising,” Mika Kivimaki, lead author on the study and a professor of epidemiology at University College London, told The Huffington Post in August. “Previously, we found that long working hours was associated with diabetes, but only among those with low socioeconomic status. In contrast, the association with stroke was seen in all groups.”

We’re chalking that up as a solid reason to call it quitting time. 

3. A four-day school week makes kids better learners. 

A shortened work week isn’t just beneficial for office workers. Elementary school children who participated in a shortened four-day school week program scored significantly higher in math than those who went to school five days a week, according to a study conducted by Georgia State and Montana State Universities and published in the journal Education, Finance and Policy in July.

“We thought the longer days might give teachers an opportunity to use different kinds of instructional processes,” Mary Beth Walker, dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State said in a statement. “We also speculated that a four-day school week lowered absenteeism, so students who had dentist’s appointments or events might be able to put those off until Friday and not miss school.”

So there you have it. Three-day weekends: Good for happiness, good for learning, good for health. Step away from the computer, go forth and vacation! 

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