Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? ~ Edgar Bergen
So I’m just returning from a week’s vacation and I’ve definitely got a serious case of vacation re-entry disorder. In theory it isn’t fatal, or so I thought. A recent study I read suggests that returning to work just might give the Baconator a run for its money when it comes to risk-taking behavior.
Writing in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that people who work 11 hours or more per day were far more likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who knew when to call it a day. Worse yet, those workaholics were 66% more likely to have a heart attack or to die of one. I knew work was overrated, but this gives laziness a whole new patina.
Granted, the 7095 study subjects were all civil servants, so it is possible that just working for the government leads your heart to harden like cement. Additionally, all of the study subjects were Londoners, so it is also possible that fish and chips are the true proximate cause of said heart disease, the long hours being only coincidental. However, I’m guessing the researchers were smart enough to control for fish and chips, much less shepherd’s pie, and thus the results probably hold up against the stereotypical British culinary argument (no offense Brit pals).
And so it gives one pause, particularly one like me who sometimes forgets the part about how to stop working when the clock strikes 5:00.
I always arrive late at the office, but I make up for it by leaving early. ~ Charles Lamb
Quoted in the New York Times, Mika Kivimaki, the study’s lead author and a professor of social epidemiology at University College London, said it was not clear whether 11-hour work days caused the increased coronary risk or whether the chronic stress that results from working long hours is the culprit. Chronic stress can lead to depression and sleep problems, which themselves are risk factors for heart disease. Does it really matter which is the cause? Bottom line: work kills.
Okay, well maybe not all work. Study subjects who averaged 7-8 hours of work a day didn’t evidence the same level of heart disease as did those who arrived at work in the dark and left after sundown. So that means we should all be working 9-5 with a healthy lunch and calling it a day, right? All that’s going to take is a wholesale change in how our American culture values hard work—no problem! I think Steve Martin said it best, “All I’ve ever wanted was an honest week’s pay for an honest day’s work.” Hard to argue with that strategy.