I read a very interesting article in The Lancet this week, which looked at research coming out of the University College London, concerning long hours and the effect it could have on our health.
Before we all start worrying about a few extra hours worked here and there, this study seems to be more about those who burn the candle at both ends, and who never let up with work. So what did the study say, and are these risks due to a lack of sleep/rest or lifestyle?
Here are the statistics. People who work for more than 55 hours per week have a 33% increased risk of a stroke and a 13% increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. Those who work between 41-48 hours led to a 10% increased risk of a stroke.
Back in May of this year, it was revealed that younger people were getting more strokes. There were 6,221 hospital admissions for men aged 40-54, which is a rise of 1,961 on 14 years previous. Strokes are no longer thought to be a disease of the older generation.
Nobody could say for certain as to what was the cause for this risks, but it has been thought that those who work long hours, generally do not take good care of themselves, plus their lifestyle is not one that is conducive to being healthy. Some of those who took part in the study, (and who worked long hours) would engage in things such as smoking, drinking excess alcohol and not exercising enough. I dare say their diet was not that great either, as obesity has also been linked to the rise in number of people taking a stroke. So maybe it is not the long hours that are worked that is the issue, but the fact that folk have not been taking enough care of themselves during and after work. It was found that people were also sat down for long periods of time (which is never great for health) and the fact that individuals in many cases, felt the effects of stress.
So what is the answer? It was suggested that people monitor and keep an eye on their blood pressure, but Dr Tim Chico, a consultant cardiologist said: “Most of us could reduce the amount of time we spend sitting down, increase our physical activity and improve our diet while working and this might be more important the more time we spend at work.”
In other words, start taking better care of ourselves!