Reason number 1,215 for why science rules: it turns out, we’re all putting in way too much time at our jobs! Science says: work less! Hey there working stiffs, Trace here for DNews! Like many of you out there, I have a full-time job. This. And I generally put in 40 hours a week, or a lot more. But new research out of Australia suggests that I may be putting my health at risk. The study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine sampled roughly 3,800 men and 4,000 women to get an idea of how working for a long time would affect their health. They found that on average, working more than 39 hours per week led to a decline in mental health. Researchers think this is because it gives you less time to eat healthy meals and to take care of yourself.
And there were actually pretty huge differences in how men and women were affected by work. For men the upper healthy limit was pegged around 43.5 hours, whereas for women it was closer to 38. That difference was made even more dramatic when considering that women are often expected to take care of household, unpaid work in addition to their hourly workload. Nonetheless, many countries, including the entire European Union, have implemented a maximum 48-hour work week. The International Labor Office has released reports detailing how working more than 48-hours can significantly increase the risk of mental health problems, and working more than 60 hours regularly can even lead to physical problems, especially cardiovascular disease.
Another recent study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine looked at people who’d been working for a least ten years, and found that the risk of cardiovascular disease increases as the number of hours worked per week increases, with the health risk being lowest between 40 and 45 hours per week. For those workers who sit all day in an office, the effects can be even worse. A 2014 study of 4,000 civil servants in the UK found that those who sat more than 25 hours per week tended to increase their chances of insulin resistance and had higher rates of “bad” cholesterol.
Both of these are risk factors for diabetes, and the same study found that those who sat fewer than 12 hours per day actually lowered their risk of diabetes by up to 75%. A poll of nearly 240,000 US workers found that among those working full-time, more than one-in-ten had been diagnosed with depression. Of course, this only shows that people who work full-time might also be depressed, not that working necessarily causes depression. Nonetheless, the correlation is worth noting. And although the original study we looked at recommends an average of 39 hours a week, that may not be the whole story when it comes to how working affects your health. It also matters whether or not you take breaks during the day. Although many countries have laws guaranteeing employees regular breaks, those breaks may not be frequent enough for maximum productivity. The brain gets tired when repeatedly stressed. And in fact, it’s possible that the best way to boost your health and productivity is not to come into work at all! [rimshot], No but seriously.
Working from home is getting more and more popular thanks to the internet and telecommuting, but it’s still not the norm. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research looked at call center employees in China, and their performance when working from home. They found that on average, the employees worked more minutes per shift, and took more calls per minute at home, bumping their productivity by about 13% when working from home. The workers also reported higher work satisfaction. Not a surprise. So in the end, the healthiest and most productive solution seems to be working fewer hours, from home, with plenty of breaks. So catch me next time on DNews, where I’ll be reporting from my house.
Stay tuned! If you’re stuck working long hours, would it help to listen to music? Do you think that would boost your productivity? Find out in this video here. What about you? Do you feel like you work too much? Do you listen to music while you work? Let us know down in the comments, make sure you subscribe for more DNews and thanks for watching..