Since we’ve been talking about the many health benefits of simply moving every single day, allow me to add yet another important caveat to that conversation.
New research shows that not all physical activity is created equal after all. In fact, some of it may actually be harmful…
You can’t exercise on the job
A new large study looked at the different effects of physical activity performed during leisure time versus physical activity performed at work on cardiovascular health and mortality.
Researchers looked at more than 104,000 participants of the Copenhagen General Population study, all between 20 and 100 years old. Questionnaires on leisure and occupational physical activity were administered. Then, for each form of activity, participants were categorized as engaging in low, moderate, high, or very high activity.
The findings were published in the European Heart Journal—and let’s just say, there are some striking differences.
Over the ten–year follow-up, there were nearly 10,000 deaths from any cause, and nearly 8,000 deaths from major adverse cardiovascular events (like heart attack and stroke). But that’s not all…
Not surprisingly, subjects with moderate, high, and very high physical activity levels during leisure time were anywhere from 26 percent to 41 percent less likely to die an early death than those with low activity levels during leisure time.
On the other hand, subjects with higher levels of work activity were anywhere from 13 percent to 27 percent more likely to die.
The same trend extended to major heart events, with higher levels of leisure-time activity lowering risk anywhere from 14 to 23 percent. While higher levels of work-time activity raised risk as high as 35 percent.
All work and no workout
The researchers accounted for a number of key factors—including lifestyle, health conditions, and socioeconomic status—before reaching these conclusions. So clearly, there’s something to these findings, even with it being an observational study.
Namely, that an “all work and no workout” mentality can be hazardous to your health. Even if you exert yourself consistently at work. The difference lies in how you get your heart rate up—and for how long.
This isn’t the first research to suggest that, either. Smaller studies have also shown links between occupational activity and higher risk of heart disease and death. But those studies couldn’t explain whether it was the work itself that was dangerous, or if other factors (like low education levels, for example) had a hand.
Nevertheless, it looks like where you get your workout matters. And the study authors suggest a few potential reasons for that…
Like the fact that work activity usually doesn’t raise heart rate the same way that a brisk walk might, for example. Or that heavy physical labor on the job might raise blood pressure for too long during the day (as opposed to recreational exercise, which only raises blood pressure briefly).
The bottom line? Even if you spend all day on your feet at work, there’s no substitute for the physical activity you get at home (or at the gym). So make sure you’re still getting it—every single day.
And if your job is physically demanding, be sure to build in some time for rest, and then still engage in leisurely physical activity at home. The trick is effectively (and safely) getting your heart rate up—to ultimately promote cardiovascular health. Some of my favorite ways to do so are through running, jogging, cycling, or playing a sport.
P.S. For additional ways to safeguard your heart against America’s biggest killers—including high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke—I encourage you to check out my my Ultimate Heart Protection Protocol. To learn more about this innovative, online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now
“Leisure physical activity is linked with health benefits but work activity is not.” Science Daily, 04/08/2021. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210408212952.htm)