Employees working long hours could be at increased risk for developing heart disease.
This is the conclusion of a meta-analysis of 12 studies that assessed the correlation between working long hours (more than 10 hours a day or 50 hours a week) and the development of heart disease in 22,518 participants. The researchers concluded that working long hours increased the risk of heart disease by approximately 40%.
This is one of the first studies to look specifically at the link between long work days and heart disease. The adverse effects of overwork include decreased productivity, increased rates of accidents and injuries, and overall worse health outcomes.
These researchers suggest several reasons why long work days might lead to increased risk of heart disease. Long work days are stressful. Stress may contribute to smoking, drinking, unhealthy eating habits, and less sleep, all of which increase the risk of heart disease.
The opposite may also be true: shorter working hours appear to be good for you. A pilot study in Sweden found that nurses working six hours per day were healthier, happier, and more productive than those working the traditional eight hour day. Companies and small businesses that have reduced working hours have observed similar benefits—for employees and productivity.
Although it may not be possible to reduce your work hours, it is possible to reduce the negative effects on your heart. Here are some tips to start:
- Reduce stress
- Sleep at least 7 hours a night
- Increase movement during the day by standing every hour, walking around the office or stretching in the bathroom.
- Read the article A Six-Hour Workday Could be Good for You—and Your Employer
- Read the original study on Long Working Hours and Coronary Heart Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- Learn 5 Tips to Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
- Subscribe to our blog to stay informed about heart and cardiovascular health