Long Work Hours May Hurt Your Health
Being at work more than 60 hours a week had the most damaging effects on women’s well-being, Long Work Hours May Hurt Your Health and make you fatigue.
Years of working long hours may help you climb the career ladder, but those hours may take a steep toll on your health and that’s especially true for women, new research says.
“People who habitually put in a lot of long hours for many years, even decades, are really running an increased risk of potentially seeing chronic disease later in life,” said study researcher Allard Dembe. He’s a professor of health services management and policy at the College of Public Health at Ohio State University.
The link between long work hours and disease ”seems to be present a bit in men but is tremendously more evident in women,” said Dembe. While the study cannot prove cause and effect, he said, the associations were strong in women.
Disease and long work hours
When the researchers compared men who worked more than 60 hours a week to those who worked 30 to 40, they found those who worked the long hours had more than twice the risk of getting osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
But men’s risk for other chronic or serious diseases didn’t go up substantially. In fact, those who worked 41 to 50 hours had a lower risk of heart disease, lung disease, and depression, researchers noted.
But when the study compared women who worked 30 to 40 hours a week to those who worked more than 60 hours a week, women who worked more had substantially higher rates of disease. Women who worked 60 or more hours had more than three times the risk of heart disease, non-skin cancer and diabetes, nearly three times the risk of asthma, and nearly four times the risk of arthritis, the study showed.
The risks for women began to climb when they worked more than 40 hours and escalated above 50 hours. The gender differences were surprising, Dembe said, as was the strength of the increased risks he found for women.
Three-decade long study
The study included information on the working habits of nearly 7 500 US men and women over more than three decades. Most of the study volunteers were over 50 toward the end of the study.
The researchers then looked to see if there was any link between work hours and the diagnosis of eight different diseases. These included heart disease, non-skin cancer, arthritis, diabetes, chronic lung disease, asthma, depression, and high blood pressure, the study said.
The vital statistics
Twenty-eight percent of those in the study worked 30 to 40 hours weekly. Most people — 56 percent — in the study worked 41 to 50 hours a week, the study said. Thirteen percent put in 51 to 60 hours weekly, while 3 percent toiled for 60 hours or more a week, the study found.
Dembe could not explain why more work hours seemed to have such an impact on women’s health but believe that women’s multiple roles are at the root. “My speculation is, they have to balance all these other roles, parenting, child care, domestic responsibilities, worrying about everyone’s health care,” he said.
Working the long hours can interfere with sleep and keep the body in a constant state of stress, Dembe said.
The study findings make sense, said cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg. She’s medical director of the Joan H Tisch Center for Women’s Health at New York University Langone Medical Center, in New York City.
Working long hours and taking care of a family may leave little time to prepare meals, she said, so these women may be eating and serving their family fast food or another takeout that is unhealthy.
Women working long hours who are single mothers may have even more responsibilities and stress, she said.
So, what can women do to protect their health? “Obviously, people need to work and pay their rent,” Goldberg said. However, she tells women who work long hours to step back and take stock. Is there something they can cut out? Perhaps doing less volunteer work until the workload on the job declines?
Goldberg said taking some time for yourself every day is crucial. That could mean getting some exercise, reading a book, watching TV or even just sitting doing deep breathing. “Clear your head,” she said.
An important question that we have is how to love the job you have?
Focus on what the job does for you.
It provides you with money to pay the rent, the electricity, the school fees, and the grocery bill. It also buys movie tickets and a new pair of jeans – in a good month. With a bit of luck, it also gives you medical aid and a pension fund. If you work for a big company, you might even get life insurance and a disability cover – not things to be sniffed at.
Find a friend/mentor.
It doesn’t have to be someone who works in the same field as you. Find someone you admire and learn as much from them as you possibly can. Moral support and encouragement from someone at work can also go a long way to making you working situation more pleasant.
Take advantage of training opportunities.
Does the company you work for pay for further training? If so, make use of it. Further qualifications or diplomas could also make it easier for you to move onwards or upwards.
Focus on how you are doing, not what you are doing.
If you concentrate on doing your particular job as well as you can, you will stop yourself from falling into a negative spiral of thinking about what you really would like to be doing.
Match your skills with the company’s needs.
If you know the company is shortly going to be branching out into a new direction, get yourself acquainted with that particular field. In this way, you could get the promotion you might otherwise have waited for years.
Your job is not a life sentence.
In a depressed job market, moving on is not always a possibility, but keep your options open. Your boss and the company do not own you and if you find things really intolerable, there is always the possibility of resigning. Loyalty is all very fine and well, but ask yourself how much loyalty your company would feel towards you if they had to retrench half their staff. If your job is having an impact on your mental or physical health, consider other possibilities well we can conclude that Long Work Hours May Hurt Your Health.