By contrast, folks who said they got most of their physical activity on the job were more likely to die or sustain a cardiovascular event than those people who reported less manual labor. The findings held even after the researchers controlled for other factors that affect heart and stroke risks, such as weight, alcohol intake, smoking status, cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Something has to change, Holtermann said.
“Work ought to be organized, so the worker not become too fatigued or exhausted, with sufficient time/ability for recovery, so they have energy to do the health-promoting activities at leisure,” he said. “The worker ought to take responsibility for…improving physical activity during leisure, as well as getting sufficient recovery to recuperate from work.”
In an editorial accompanying the new study, Martin Halle and Melanie Heitkamp, of the Technical University of Munich in Germany, also called for change. “Companies should offer breaks and recovery time during work, sufficient recreational breaks and complementary exercise training for their employees, especially for workers in heavy manual jobs,” they wrote.
The research was published April 9 in the European Heart Journal.
Two American cardiologists agreed that leisure-time physical activity is important for promoting heart health and that occupational activity can be deleterious.
“In general, leisure-time physical activity, which is often of the endurance type, promotes cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of suffering a fatal heart attack,” said Dr. Evan Appelbaum, director of Men’s Health Boston. He was not involved in the new study.
“Occupational physical activity, typically more resistance-type, lacks adequate rest and recovery and may not reduce risk, and may increase risk of heart attack,” Appelbaum said.