Michael Burgis & Associates, P.C.

Physical labor linked to risk of early death

It is true that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy and can increase certain health problems, such as obesity. However, it's important to note that some types of physical activity can also be problematic. In fact, one study linked physical activity with an increased risk of an early death.

The study in question examined 193,000 different male workers. They all had jobs that required different levels of physical activity; some were demanding jobs and others were not. In this study, researchers discovered that those with the most physically intense jobs saw a risk of dying early that was 18% higher than their counterparts.

Work vs. leisure

The researchers understood that this could appear to be contradictory information when compared with studies of exercise and extended lifespans. However, they said that they thought that the study only really reflected the physical demands at work and their impact on the worker, not the impact of all activities. According to the head researchers, they think that "physical activity at work and during leisure time are two really different types of exercise" and the physiological outcomes related to such activities are different.

Choosing to rest

One big difference that they noted was that someone who had a physically demanding job may stay active all day long, regardless of how they felt, and may have limited opportunities for rest. Even when they had breaks, they did not choose when they were. By comparison, those who chose to exercise outside of work could take breaks on their own schedule and usually did not work out for more than an hour anyway.

For instance, someone who ran six miles every day may appear to be very active, but that should still take them only about an hour. If they ever felt like they were pushing themselves too hard and they needed to rest, they could do it at will.

On the other side of the coin, a physically active worker may not choose to exercise at all and may keep pushing himself or herself at work to keep up with the demands of the job, even when a break was needed. Even if their output of energy was not as high as the person who went running, the fact that it lasted for eight hours could do things like raising their heart rate and breathing levels for an extended period. This can be healthy to a degree, but clearly also poses a risk.

Workplace injuries

The risk of an early death is not the only one. Physical jobs may also have a greater risk of serious injuries at work. Those who do get hurt need to know all of their rights under the workers' compensation laws in California.

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