All work and no play could very well mean sickness or death. A long-term study has found that working too much is just not good for your heart.
Published in the European Heart Journal, the finding found that rates of nonfatal heart attacks, angina and even death from heart-related conditions were 60 percent higher in people who worked at least three hours more than what is considered the “normal seven-hour day” when compared with those who didn’t work overtime.
The Whitehall II study, a long-term investigation on the health of 10,000 London office workers who were tracked since 1985, provided the data. In this specific study, the health of 6,014 of these men and women was observed for an average of 11 years.
Although the researchers are not sure what the link is caused by, they did find that overtime workers tended to be type A people, more prone to heart disease and more anxious and depressed. The key question is: did the overwork cause them to be that way or were they that way in the beginning?
It could be that they were simply stressed out from all that extra work since chronic stress is bad for the heart. Or maybe they did not get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation appears to be connected to more health problems over time. In any case, it seems to be better for your health to avoid long hours at the office. Instead, try getting more exercise or just doing things that relax you. When you are less stressed, your productivity is likely to improve anyway.
Unfortunately, some of us just don’t have control over how much we have to work. The study adds that the workload “has increased in recent years” and the U.S. is even one of the countries that is way above average in this area.
This said, it is worth mentioning that the scientists said having “decision latitude” seems to reduce the link between overtime and angina rates in the study. They noted that it is possible that choosing to work long hours might not be as harmful to your heart as actually being forced to work those extended hours.