It’s not just women who are putting their health at risk (see “Stress can be a killer for women ..“).
Unfit men who work long hours are doubling their risk of dying from heart disease. And it doesn’t matter whether or not the work is physically demanding. Work itself increases your heart rate and blood pressure.
According to Denmark’s National Research Centre for the Working Environment if you work longer than 45 hours and don’t take exercise you run twice the risk of dying than fit men who also work long hours but exercise.
Their study, published in the journal Heart, looked at 5,000 men aged 40 to 59 and tracked their working hours and fitness levels over 30 years. One in five of the men worked longer than 45 hours a week and if they were unfit these were the ones who were at most risk. Even working between 40 and 45 hours increased the risk by almost 60% compared with men who worked less than 40 hours.
Physically fit men were least at risk no matter how many hours they worked – not just of dying from heart disease but from other causes as well. High levels of fitness counter the negative effects on the body and speed up recovery time allowing you to sleep better and leaving you less tired and irritable.
The Daily Mail reported that full-timer workers in the UK work 1.5 hours a week longer than the EU average of 39.9 hours. Of course our government opted out of the Working Time Directive despite earlier warnings of the ill effects of working over 50 hours (See “Taking work to extremes“).
Apparently only workers in Romania and Bulgaria work longer hours and the UK has one of the highest heart attack rates in the world – someone having a heart attack every two minutes.