Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


stress-level

(ILLUSTRATION: OLIVIER LE MOAL/SHUTTERSTOCK)

How to Stay Healthy Even if You Can’t Avoid Stress on the Job

• May 30, 2013 • 8:00 AM

(ILLUSTRATION: OLIVIER LE MOAL/SHUTTERSTOCK)

One researcher, who recognized that avoiding stress at work was, for some, completely unrealistic, went looking for alternatives.

Being under stress at work is tied to a higher risk of heart problems, new research confirms—but putting down the beer bottle and going for a walk may help.

Researchers found that job strain—defined as having a lot of demands at work, but little control—was tied at a 25 percent higher chance of having a heart attack or dying of heart problems. But heart risks were cut in half among people—stressed or not—who maintained a healthy lifestyle compared to those who drank, smoked, or were obese.

“For many people avoidance of work stress is unrealistic,” lead researcher Mika Kivimaki, from University College London, told Reuters Health in an email. “Thus, we wanted to ask the question whether adopting an otherwise healthy lifestyle would reduce heart disease risk among those with job strain,” he said.

“If you’re stuck being stressed at work, at least go out and exercise, don’t smoke, and eat healthy.”

Kivimaki and his colleagues combined the results of seven European studies that surveyed 102,000 people about their general lifestyle habits and health, including how much strain they were under at work. None of those participants had heart disease at the start of the study. Over the next seven years, on average, there were about 1,100 heart attacks or deaths from heart disease across the trials.

About one in six people in the studies initially reported being under job strain.

Rates of heart problems over a decade ranged from 12 cases per 1,000 generally healthy people without job strain to 31 per 1,000 people with job strain and multiple lifestyle risks, such as rarely exercising or having more than three or four alcoholic drinks a day.

Kivimaki’s team calculated that close to four percent of all heart attacks and heart disease deaths could be attributed to job strain and about 26 percent to drinking, smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity.

The researchers wrote in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that for people with stressful jobs, adopting a healthier lifestyle may be a strategy to lower heart risks.

“We hope this message reaches those who want to reduce their heart disease risk but feel they cannot avoid work stress,” Kivimaki said.

One researcher who has studied work stress and heart disease separately said the new review may underestimate the link between job strain and heart disease.

OTHER FACTORS?
Paul Landsbergis of SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, said other types of job stress that may influence heart risks—such as having low social support and job insecurity—weren’t taken into account.

The new study doesn’t prove pressure at work caused heart problems. But cardiologist Dr. Vincent Figueredo from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia said the results are in line with past studies suggesting that chronic stress, including from job strain, can have negative health effects. “With chronic stress, there’s activation of these systems that can have long-term effects on things like insulin resistance, central obesity, (and) high blood pressure,” Figueredo, who wasn’t involved in the new research, told Reuters Health.

What this review adds, he said, is that workers may be able to do something about those extra risks. “It does offer some hope for those people who do have that job strain they can’t do anything about at work,” Figueredo said. “If you’re stuck being stressed at work, at least go out and exercise, don’t smoke, and eat healthy.”

Genevra Pittman

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

November 26 • 4:00 PM

Turmoil at JPMorgan

Examiners are reportedly blocked from doing their job as “London Whale” trades blow up.


November 26 • 2:00 PM

Rich Kids Are More Likely to Be Working for Dad

Nepotism is alive and well, especially for the well-off.


November 26 • 12:00 PM

How Do You Make a Living, Taxidermist?

Taxidermist Katie Innamorato talks to Noah Davis about learning her craft, seeing it become trendy, and the going-rate for a “Moss Fox.”


November 26 • 10:28 AM

Attitudes About Race Affect Actions, Even When They Don’t

Tiny effects of attitudes on individuals’ actions pile up quickly.


November 26 • 10:13 AM

Honeybees Touring America


November 26 • 10:00 AM

Understanding Money

In How to Speak Money, John Lanchester explains how the monied people talk about their mountains of cash.


November 26 • 8:00 AM

The Exponential Benefits of Eating Less

Eating less food—whole food and junk food, meat and plants, organic and conventional, GMO and non-GMO—would do a lot more than just better our personal health.


November 26 • 6:00 AM

The Incorruptible Bodies of Saints

Their figures were helped along by embalming, but, somehow, everyone forgot that part.


November 26 • 4:00 AM

The Geography of Real Estate Markets Is Shifting Under Our Feet

Policies aimed at unleashing supply in order to make housing more affordable are relying on outdated models.



November 25 • 4:00 PM

Is the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Doing Enough to Monitor Wall Street?

Bank President William Dudley says supervision is stronger than ever, but Democratic senators are unconvinced: “You need to fix it, Mr. Dudley, or we need to get someone who will.”


November 25 • 3:30 PM

Cultural Activities Help Seniors Retain Health Literacy

New research finds a link between the ability to process health-related information and regular attendance at movies, plays, and concerts.


November 25 • 12:00 PM

Why Did Doctors Stop Giving Women Orgasms?

You can thank the rise of the vibrator for that, according to technology historian Rachel Maines.


November 25 • 10:08 AM

Geography, Race, and LOLs

The online lexicon spreads through racial and ethnic groups as much as it does through geography and other traditional linguistic measures.


November 25 • 10:00 AM

If It’s Yellow, Seriously, Let It Mellow

If you actually care about water and the future of the species, you’ll think twice about flushing.


November 25 • 8:00 AM

Sometimes You Should Just Say No to Surgery

The introduction of national thyroid cancer screening in South Korea led to a 15-fold increase in diagnoses and a corresponding explosion of operations—but no difference in mortality rates. This is a prime example of over-diagnosis that’s contributing to bloated health care costs.



November 25 • 6:00 AM

The Long War Between Highbrow and Lowbrow

Despise The Avengers? Loathe the snobs who despise The Avengers? You’re not the first.


November 25 • 4:00 AM

Are Women More Open to Sex Than They Admit?

New research questions the conventional wisdom that men overestimate women’s level of sexual interest in them.


November 25 • 2:00 AM

The Geography of Innovation, or, Why Almost All Japanese People Hate Root Beer

Innovation is not a product of population density, but of something else entirely.


November 24 • 4:00 PM

Federal Reserve Announces Sweeping Review of Its Big Bank Oversight

The Federal Reserve Board wants to look at whether the views of examiners are being heard by higher-ups.



November 24 • 2:00 PM

That Catcalling Video Is a Reminder of Why Research Methods Are So Important

If your methods aren’t sound then neither are your findings.


November 24 • 12:00 PM

Yes, Republicans Can Still Win the White House

If the economy in 2016 is where it was in 2012 or better, Democrats will likely retain the White House. If not, well….


November 24 • 11:36 AM

Feeling—Not Being—Wealthy Cuts Support for Economic Redistribution

A new study suggests it’s relative wealth that leads people to oppose taxing the rich and giving to the poor.


Follow us


Attitudes About Race Affect Actions, Even When They Don’t

Tiny effects of attitudes on individuals' actions pile up quickly.

Geography, Race, and LOLs

The online lexicon spreads through racial and ethnic groups as much as it does through geography and other traditional linguistic measures.

Feeling—Not Being—Wealthy Cuts Support for Economic Redistribution

A new study suggests it's relative wealth that leads people to oppose taxing the rich and giving to the poor.

Sufferers of Social Anxiety Disorder, Your Friends Like You

The first study of friends' perceptions suggest they know something's off with their pals but like them just the same.

Standing Up for My Group by Kicking Yours

Members of a minority ethnic group are less likely to express support for gay equality if they believe their own group suffers from discrimination.

The Big One

One in two United States senators and two in five House members who left office between 1998 and 2004 became lobbyists. November/December 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.