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

October 22 • 4:00 PM

The Last Thing the Women’s Movement Needs Is a Heroic Male Takeover

Is the United Nations’ #HeForShe campaign helping feminism?


October 22 • 2:00 PM

Turning Public Education Into Private Profits

Baker Mitchell is a politically connected North Carolina businessman who celebrates the power of the free market. Every year, millions of public education dollars flow through Mitchell’s chain of four non-profit charter schools to for-profit companies he controls.


October 22 • 12:00 PM

Will the End of a Tax Loophole Kill Off Irish Business and Force Google and Apple to Pay Up?

U.S. technology giants have constructed international offices in Dublin in order to take advantage of favorable tax policies that are now changing. But Ireland might have enough other draws to keep them there even when costs climb.


October 22 • 10:00 AM

Veterans in the Ivory Tower

Why there aren’t enough veterans at America’s top schools—and what some people are trying to do to change that.


October 22 • 8:00 AM

Our Language Prejudices Don’t Make No Sense

We should embrace the fact that there’s no single recipe for English. Making fun of people for replacing “ask” with “aks,” or for frequently using double negatives just makes you look like the unsophisticated one.


October 22 • 7:04 AM

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.


October 22 • 6:00 AM

How We Form Our Routines

Whether it’s a morning cup of coffee or a glass of warm milk before bed, we all have our habitual processions. The way they become engrained, though, varies from person to person.


October 22 • 4:00 AM

For Preschoolers, Spite and Smarts Go Together

New research from Germany finds greater cognitive skills are associated with more spiteful behavior in children.


October 21 • 4:00 PM

Why the Number of Reported Sexual Offenses Is Skyrocketing at Occidental College

When you make it easier to report assault, people will come forward.


October 21 • 2:00 PM

Private Donors Are Supplying Spy Gear to Cops Across the Country Without Any Oversight

There’s little public scrutiny when private donors pay to give police controversial technology and weapons. Sometimes, companies are donors to the same foundations that purchase their products for police.


October 21 • 12:00 PM

How Clever Do You Think Your Dog Is?

Maybe as smart as a four-year-old child?


October 21 • 10:00 AM

Converting the Climate Change Non-Believers

When hard science isn’t enough, what can be done?



October 21 • 8:00 AM

Education Policy Is Stuck in the Manufacturing Age

Refining our policies and teaching social and emotional skills will help us to generate sustained prosperity.


October 21 • 7:13 AM

That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you’ve (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.


October 21 • 6:00 AM

Fruits and Vegetables Are About to Enter a Flavor Renaissance

Chefs are teaming up with plant breeders to revitalize bland produce with robust flavors and exotic beauty—qualities long neglected by industrial agriculture.


October 21 • 4:00 AM

She’s Cheating on Him, You Can Tell Just by Watching Them

New research suggests telltale signs of infidelity emerge even in a three- to five-minute video.


October 21 • 2:00 AM

Cheating Demographic Doom: Pittsburgh Exceptionalism and Japan’s Surprising Economic Resilience

Don’t judge a metro or a nation-state by its population numbers.


October 20 • 4:00 PM

The Bird Hat Craze That Sparked a Preservation Movement

How a fashion statement at the turn of the 19th century led to the creation of the first Audubon societies.


October 20 • 2:00 PM

The Risk of Getting Killed by the Police If You Are White, and If You Are Black

An analysis of killings by police shows outsize risk for young black males.


October 20 • 12:00 PM

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they’re motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.


October 20 • 11:00 AM

My Dog Comes First: The Importance of Pets to Homeless Youth

Dogs and cats have both advantages and disadvantages for street-involved youth.


October 20 • 10:00 AM

Homophobia Is Not a Thing of the Past

Despite growing support for LGBT rights and recent decisions from the Supreme Court regarding the legality of same-sex marriage, the battle for acceptance has not yet been decided.


October 20 • 8:00 AM

Big Boobs Matter Most

Medical mnemonics are often scandalous and sexist, but they help the student to both remember important facts and cope with challenging new experiences.


October 20 • 6:00 AM

When Disease Becomes Political: The Likely Electoral Fallout From Ebola

Will voters blame President Obama—and punish Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections—for a climate of fear?


Follow us


My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.

That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you've (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they're motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.

How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.

Unlocking Consciousness

A study of vegetative patients closes in on the nature of consciousness.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

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