Admonition to myself: 11-hour workdays boost heart disease risk.

 

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Actung! I am writing this article for myself… and for the legions of ultra-busy people who work 11 hours a day or more. We are the people who keep the world going… but to be able to do so, we need to stay healthy and alive.

On April 6, 2011 Bloomberg News reported that we’re at risk and need to take immediate action to minimize the problem.

The facts.

Adults who worked 11 hours a day or more had a 67 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who worked eight hours, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported (April 5, 2011). The researchers also found that by adding working hours to a standard heart attack risk assessment model, they could increase the accuracy of heart disease predictions by 5 percent.

Heart disease, the nation’s leading killer.

According to the National Institutes of Health, heart disease is the nation’s leading killer. More and more people succumb to it because more and more people are working more and more hours, making ours the least leisured generation ever, the one with the greatest challenges and risks.

Remarks by Mike Kivimaki, project lead researcher.

Current evidence on coronary heart disease prevention emphasizes the importance of focusing on the total risk rather than single risk factors. “People who work long hours should be particularly careful in following healthy diets, exercising sufficiently, and keeping their blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose within healthy limits,” said project director Kivimaki.

Srihari Naidu, director of the Cardiac Catheteriization Laboratory at Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, New York, said these data show that how people live — their stress levels, sleeping, eating, and exercise habits — can affect their risks for heart disease. “The choices we make in our lifestyle may have consequences,” Naidu said.

Study details.

The research followed 7,095 civil service workers in London who were ages 39 to 62 at the start of the trial. They were screened for heart disease every five years. The study found that 192 people developed heart disease over 12.3 years of follow up. Those who worked 10 hours a day had a 45 percent higher risk of heart disease than those who worked seven to eight hours.

Self-Talk for myself.

If you’re one of those people who work 10 hours plus a day, listen up. I’m one of you…. and like you I need to take such warnings with more seriousness. So, for me, for you, I’ve created a list which I intend to keep right next to my computer. You should, too….

1) Don’t ignore this warning, the way you’ve ignored previous warnings.

You’re no spring chicken; you’re getting older… and if you want to get older still, don’t just read these survey results… LIVE THEM!

The plain fact is, researchers have known for a long while the risk factors causing heart disease. You’ve seen, what, a few dozen warnings… and managed to ignore most of them, not the least of which comes from your physician as he urges you for the umteenth time to stop smoking.

Personal note: I don’t smoke cigarettes, never have. That’s a must for all those who value life over nicotine.

2) Get up and boogie.

I spend my entire, extended work day at the computer. To force myself to get up, I keep a list of peppy, jump-up music readily at hand. Who doesn’t want to get up and boogie when the song is Michael Jackson’s “Don’t stop ’til you get enough”…. or any other lively number that gets more than your feet moving.

Music on… jump up… and move that body.

Okay, so you’re not Fred Astaire. So what? Exercise and its benefits are for the do-er, not the watcher… and it’s your heart we want to keep in tip-top shape.

3) Walk.

Make it a point to walk, briskly too, at least 40 minutes a day.

Walk, too, every other chance you can… to the post office, the barber, to the local cinema. You know the advantages of walking; you’ve known them all your life. Now decide to do something. Leave the car at home… and walk.

4)  Eat small portions more often.

The obesity phenomenon which was once pretty much an American affair has gone universal with a vengeance.  Heart disease and excess pounds are, we know, related. But you can start solving this problem… today… by eating  more often throughout the day but eating less.

Here, too, I bet you already know what  to do…. you just aren’t doing it. So, vow to make changes now, exchanging those high sugar, high salt, high fat foods for celery and company.

Get over the “giving up” mentality. Replace with the “here’s what I’m getting” mentality.  What you get here is plain: more of the distinctly limited time which is the most important thing you can get. Getting more time is the absolutely essential thing, and you have it within your power to get more of it.

Now for strictly work-related observations.

There are many reasons for working 10 hours a day or more. You might have hefty bills to pay and need the extra bucks. You might like the finer things of life. You might think yourself, and actually be, indispensable to your business. You might even be one of those who works hard to avoid the turbulence of unceasing family problems. Whatever your reason… enough is enough.

1) Review what you do, everything you do. What is essential and what merely desirable? It’s time to find and jettison what you can. Put your daily work life and activities under a microscope and scrutinize closely.

2) Got people who can help?  Learn to delegate. No, these people will NEVER be as good at what you do as you are… but they’re there and good enough to assist. Besides, they can learn. Cutting back on one task or another may give them the chance to show what they can do to help you even more.

3) Ask yourself how much good you really do in your 10th or 11th  hour on the job, where the principle of diminishing returns applies.

Can you legitimately postpone a task until tomorrow? Is the physical price you pay, the extra fatigue, not to mention cumulative health risks worth overworking today… when it could easily be done, and freshly so, tomorrow?

You determine your fate.

The ancient Greeks believed that Clotho spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle; Lachesis measured the thread of life with her rod, and Athropos cut of the thread of life and chose the manner of a person’s death.

Now you have replaced them all… how much of life, even the matter of your death, is at the very least influenced by you. I want more of it… and I now vow to do everything to lengthen my thread, not curtail it. Will you join me? Lach haim.

———————

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc. , providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.

Dr. Lant is also the author of 18 best-selling business books.

Republished with author’s permission by Graham Lee – The Income Zone

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