How Happy You Are at the Office May Be as Important to your Health as What You Eat.

Job satisfaction can have as much influence on health and longevity as diet or exercise. One recent study noted in this article found that men who didn’t vent about unfair treatment at work doubled their chances of heart disease and heart attack. One Finnish study found that a major downsizing among municipal workers resulted in a five-fold increase in death from heart attacks, and even those not downsized were more likely to die sooner than the norm. U.S. research has shown that people losing their jobs in their 50s were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke in the following decade.

One key factor influencing this situation is the degree of control employees have over the demands of their job. “A combination of high demands and low control,” notes the author, brings on health problems and an earlier death. The amount of healthcare access a person gets doesn’t seem to make a difference; this trend is also found in countries where free healthcare is available to everyone.

Key problem areas like smoking, physical inactivity during leisure time and fewer fruits and vegetables help to skew this crisis lower down the socioeconomic ladder, and the article suggests that this gap can be narrowed through public policies involving proactive health insurance and a shortening of the unemployment period. In our current economic climate, however, the author calls on employees to take control of those things in their power – eating right, exercising to relieve stress and raise spirits and taking care to find the best cultural fit in the workplace.

Source:  Katherine Hobson, U.S. News & World Report (Washington), Feb. 1, 2010.

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