What working long hours really does to your health

By Kate Hassett

What working long hours really does to your health
Whilst 9-5 hours are a thing of the past, can working long hours do more harm than good?

Gone are the days when a regular 9-5 work day meant exactly that. Now, as work load, expectation and demand seem to increase, whilst the hours in the day stay the same, it is becoming more common for employees to put in overtime, or just regularly work past their assumed hours.

Whilst this occurrence is often all too unavoidable, the cost of working overtime extends to more than just a loss of a social life. New studies have shown that putting in those extra hours does less for our productivity and more for fatigue and stress than anything else.

In a study published in The Lancet, researchers found a strong correlation between those who work 55 or more hours per week and their likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.

Within this study, there was a 33 per cent increased risk of stroke and a 13 per cent greater chance of developing coronary heart disease, compared to those who worked the ‘standard’ 35-40 hour week. The study, conducted over a variety of countries with both men and women, didn’t appear to vary depending on sex or location.

The study also investigated data gathered by 25 pervious studies which involved more than 600,000 men and women in Europe, the US and Australia, who were under observation for 8.5 years. Again, the results showed a 13 per cent increase risk of heart disease for those working long hours.

“Health professionals should be aware that working long hours is associated with a significantly increased risk of stroke, and perhaps also coronary heart disease,” said Professor Mika Kivimaki, the lead author of the study.

“Employees who work long hours have a higher risk of stroke than those working standard hours; the association with coronary heart disease is weaker. These findings suggest that more attention should be paid to the management of vascular risk factors in individuals who work long hours.”

Researchers surmise that the link comes from the added stress, fatigue and unhealthy behaviours that go along with working longer than ideal hours – especially when those hours extend week after week without adequate rest.

Feeling the heat? try these tips on how to combat work blues.



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