The work environment can be a stressful one often coming with long hours, ongoing pressure to succeed and increased time spent hunched over a computer staring at a screen. Long office hours have been associated with various health issues including increased risk of overweight and obesity and poor mental health outcomes. There’s also been speculation that longer work hours might contribute to the risk of chronic problems like heart disease, which is the leading cause of death and disease burden in Australia. So it’s important to understand the factors that drive it and seek to assist people at particular risk.
Researchers assessed the available evidence around work hours and the chances of coronary artery disease (disease caused by plaque build up inside the arteries that supply oxygen rich blood to the heart) and stroke. Long work hours were defined as 55 hours or more per week and standard work hours, as 35 – 40 hours per week.
The results showed an association between those who worked long hours and a modest increase in the risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who worked standard hours.
This study supports suggestions that working long hours can have a negative effect on our health. This could be due to the time spent sedentary, at a desk, increased levels of stress and anxiety, and increased participation in bad health behaviours like smoking and binge drinking as a means of attempting to relieve stress. You need to be conscious of your health and remember to listen to your body – if you’re feeling stressed out and exhausted, it’s important to take some time out to let your body recover. Try and take your lunch break outside and try to make a point of leaving on time a couple of days a week. Your heart will thank you for it.
For reference: Kivimake, M et al. Long working hours and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished data for 603 838 individuals. The Lancet Published Online August 20, 2015 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(15)61000-5