People over 40 perform best when they work three days or less, study finds
Study finds that the cognitive abilities of people who are aged 40 and above are best when they work three days in a week or less
Before we even realize it, working five days a week becomes a part of our daily routine. Sometimes, so much that all we are looking forward to is the weekend. As it turns out, a recent study has found that our age does have an impact on our ability to work and, believe it or not, five days of work becomes far more tedious when you are over the age of 40.
According to the study, if you are over 40, by the time you reach the fourth day, you are already exhausted. Researchers found that the cognitive performance of middle-aged people improved as the working week increased up to 25 hours a week. However, when it went above 25 hours, overall performance for the test subjects decreased as "fatigue and stress" started taking shape.
As reported by Independent, the test was published in the Melbourne Institute Worker Paper series and invited 3,000 men and 3,500 women in Australia to complete a series of cognitive tests while their work habits were analyzed. They were asked to perform such tasks as reading things backward, reading words aloud and matching numbers and letters under time pressure.
It was found that people who worked for 25 hours performed their best. But the same wasn't the case for people who worked for 55 hours. The study showed that people who worked for so many hours had a result which was worse than retired or unemployed participants.
One of the three authors, Professor Colin McKenzie from Keio University, said that many countries are increasing the age for retirement which means that more people will fall prey to feeling tired and stressed due to work. "Many countries are going to raise their retirement ages by delaying the age at which people are eligible to start receiving pension benefits. This means that more people continue to work in the later stages of their life," he said.
While it is true that work helps to keep our mind active, one must realize that, over time, things change and work could be the reason for one to feel tired all the time. "The degree of intellectual stimulation may depend on working hours. Work can be a double-edged sword, in that it can stimulate brain activity but at the same time long working hours can cause fatigue and stress, which potentially damage cognitive functions," he said.
He further added that it is important to have different work timing for people of different age. "We point out that differences in working hours are important for maintaining cognitive functioning in middle-aged and elderly adults. This means that, in middle and older age, working part-time could be effective in maintaining cognitive ability," he said.