It appears that the study conducted by New Economics Foundation (NEF) that says there is nothing natural or inevitable about what’s considered a “normal” 40-hour work week today is accurate. In its wake, many people are caught in a vicious cycle of work and consumption. They live to work, work to earn, and earn to consume things. Missing from that equation is an important fact that researchers have discovered about most material consumption in wealthy societies: so much of the pleasure and satisfaction we gain from buying is temporary, ephemeral, and mostly just relative to those around us (who strive to consume still more, in a self-perpetuating spiral). Another study shows that working overtime is life threatening.
The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, shows that a combination of stress, raised blood pressure and unhealthy diets stemming from long working hours may be the cause of thousands of workers’ serious health problems.
The study combined the results of different studies over the last 50 years and found that spending too long in the office resulted in a 40 to 80 percent greater chance of heart disease compared to an eight hour work day. The latest findings discovered by scientists at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health support results from a 2011 British survey that revealed that doing more than 11 hours of work a day raised heart disease risks by 67 percent.
Lead researcher Dr. Marianna Virtanen and her team gathered data from 12 different studies going back to 1958, when researchers first suggested that working long hours could be linked to poor heart health. In total, the studies involved more than 22,000 participants, from Britain, the USA, Japan, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands. “There are several potential mechanisms that may underlie the association between long working hours and heart disease,” study authors wrote. ”One is prolonged exposure to psychological stress.” Researchers said that other factors could be increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, poor eating habits and lack of physical activity due to limited leisure time. Bottom line: ask yourself if those extra hours in the office everyday are really worth it, or if they’re doing you more long-term harm than good.