Live longer by working shorter hours – but is it a win-win, we investigate?
Earlier this year, New Zealand company, Perpetual Guardian, a 240-employee firm that manages trusts, wills and estates, completed a two-month trial where employees worked four days a week instead of the typical five, though their pay remained the same.
“An enduring theme across all groups is that the individuals had more time to accomplish tasks in their personal lives that are often ‘crammed in’, ‘put off’ or ‘rushed between’ in the busyness of a 5-day work schedule,” reported Dr. Helen Delaney of the University of Auckland Business School, one of the researchers who supervised the experiment. Tasks such as exercise, more quality time with loved ones and even more shut-eye.
This in turned made the employees more motivated and less stressed at work, resulting in greater productivity.
So, how then will this help prolong your life you ask? Simple, each of the above-mentioned aspects of your life – mental, physical and personal relationships – can play a role in how long you live.
A case of win-win for all.
Here are a few ways that working fewer hours each week could help boost your longevity:
You are less stressed: As already mentioned, less work equals less stress. A study published in the journal Psychological Medicine in 2011 found that working more than 55 hours per week predicted subsequent depressive and anxiety symptoms among 2,960 British people ages 44 to 66 who were employed full-time.
You get your heart pumping: Observational studies suggest that there’s about a 40% increased risk of coronary heart disease among adults who work long hours, as in more than 50 a week or more than 10 a day, according to a paper published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2012.
You get more rest: Sleep is essential to maintaining a healthy body and mind. Sleep stabilises your emotion and mental health. Poor sleep causes the emotional centres of the brain to become hyperactive and irrational. The immune system also relies hugely on a good night’s sleep. One study from UCLA found that after 4 hours of sleep reduction there was a 70% drop in natural killer cell activity. It was also discovered that there is a strong link between short sleep and cancer of the bowel, prostate and breast.
You get to spend more time with loved ones: Most importantly, less time spent at work means more time with loved ones, and a happier heart.