Men's health * Healthy living

Unfit workaholics at greater risk of death from heart disease

Unfit workaholics at greater risk of death from heart disease Exercise helps reduce risk

Unfit men who put in more than 45 hours a week are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease than those who work shorter hours, new research has found.

However, fit men who also work long hours had no increased risk of dying from heart disease.

In the study, researchers tracked the health and physical fitness of almost 5,000 Danish men aged 40 to 59 for 30 years. During this time, 587 died from heart disease.

The men also provided details on the amount of hours they spent working each week, and completed cycling exercises to assess their levels of fitness.

More than two-thirds of the men worked between 41 and 45 hours, but almost one in five put in more than 45 hours.

Unfit men who worked more than 45 hours had double the risk of dying from heart disease compared to men who worked less than 40 hours.

And men who worked 41 to 45 hours a week had a 59 per cent increased risk of dying from heart disease than men working fewer hours.

But physically fit men who worked longer hours were 45 per cent less likely to die of heart disease and 38 per cent less likely to die of other causes than those who were unfit.

Cathy Ross, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “We already know that working long hours can increase blood pressure, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

"Being physically active helps to control your blood pressure and previous studies have shown that being physically fit can help you cope with the demands of long hours, physically demanding jobs and shift work.

“This study adds to these findings by demonstrating that men who are physically active as part of their everyday life do not increase their risk of coronary heart disease, irrespective of the number of hours they work.

“Being physically active for 30 minutes five times or more a week will help to keep your heart healthy. If you do work long hours, you can build physical activity into your everyday life by walking or cycling to work, taking the stairs instead of the lift and taking a brisk walk at lunchtime.”

This article was published on Tue 7 September 2010

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