Are Longer Hours Damaging Your Health?

People who regularly work overtime, putting in 10 or 11 hours a day, increase their risk of heart disease by nearly two-thirds, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal — worrying news for web workers like myself, who tend to clock long hours.

The study covered 6,000 British civil servants, all of whom had healthy hearts at the start of the study in the 1990’s. But as it went on, 369 participants had fatal or non-fatal heart attacks or developed angina. The researchers found that even when risk factors such as age, obesity and smoking were taken into account, people working longer hours had a 56-60 percent higher chance of developing heart disease. The authors of the study say that the reason for the increased risk could be because people who work longer hours have less time for relaxation and exercise, or they may be more anxious or depressed.

However, there is some good news for web workers. A separate paper from the Cochrane Library, published earlier this year, which examined 10 other studies covering some 16,000 people , said that workers who have flexible working arrangements — in other words, get to chose their working hours, like web workers — tend to have lower blood pressure and better heart rates, presumably due to being able to establish a better work/life balance.

Do you work long hours?

Photo courtesy Flickr user normalityrelief, CC-BY-SA

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