Being Fit Saves You from Work Related Health Risks

by Matt Weik

Who wouldn’t like to walk up to their boss and say, “this job is slowly killing me every day I walk into this office.”? If you’re currently unhealthy, well, you might be telling the truth as weird as that may sound. If you’re healthy, don’t attempt it as your statement will not hold up. But indeed, you are most certainly experiencing some health risks while at work. Let me explain.

How going to work each morning might be slowly killing you

We all are under an enormous amount of stress on a daily basis at work. We have deadlines to meet, emails/calls that need to be returned, meetings that seem to be dragging out way past their allotted timeslot, etc. All of this stress can cause several issues such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, poor blood lipid values, and even an impaired mental well-being and depression. All issues that should not be taken lightly. So, exactly how can we combat these risks and maintain our health since we all need to go to work for a living to keep a roof over our head, food on our table, and clothes on our backs? It all comes down to your fitness level.

Being fit is associated with a reduction in the likelihood of becoming depressed as well as improved cardiovascular health. This is great news! Unless you are trying to get out of work. By improving your fitness level, you can lower your chances of having high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, poor blood lipid values, as well as the psychological issues that can come along with too much stress.

What is the research saying?

Researchers from the University of Basil used 200 participants for their study. The study was nearly a 50/50 split between men and women and the average age was 39. For the study the researchers used a bicycle ergometer test along with checking each participants blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and body mass index (BMI). Each participant was asked to provide what they considered to be their current perception of stress level.

When all the data from the study was complete, researchers found that those individuals who were stressed showed a higher risk for cardiovascular issues. The participants who were more fit showed a lower risk for cardiovascular issues. The researchers also confirmed through this research that cardiovascular health as a whole is linked to the increased or decreased chance of risk factors dependent on if an individual is physically fit or not.

One researcher said, “these findings are significant because it is precisely when people are stressed that they tend to engage in physical activity less often.” When you think about it, this is 100% accurate unless you are truly into exercising and fit it into your daily schedule. Think about your own life. What do you do when you are stressed? Eat? Veg out on the couch and watch television? Maybe go to bed or take a nap? All things that do not involve being active.

Moral of the story (research)? In order to stay healthy and combat the risk factors associated with stress from work, individuals should focus their efforts on staying active and exercising to reduce those risks (both mentally and physically). Maintaining your fitness level not only helps you stay healthy, but it also makes you feel better as well.

Ingibjörg H. Jonsdottir et al. Fitness Moderates the Relationship between Stress and Cardiovascular Risk Factors. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2016; 48 (11): 2075 DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001005