Men with physically demanding jobs at greater risk of early death, study finds

AMSTERDAM — There are numerous studies that point to the health risks from having a job that requires one to sit at a desk all day, but what about for the most physically demanding professions?  An international group of scientists found that men who work highly physical jobs have a higher risk of suffering an early death compared to men with more sedentary jobs.

It’s not secret that physical activity has long been linked to more positive health outcomes. Living a sedentary daily lifestyle can lead to countless health conditions, and researchers with the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam say inactivity has even been estimated to make up about seven percent of the total global health burden.

This previous research has led to international guidelines encouraging people to participate in 30 minutes a day of at least moderate intensity physical activity. So the VU researchers wanted to find the differences between those experience regular high levels of occupational exercise and people who work their bodies out mostly during leisure time.

Dr. Pieter Coenen led the international team of researchers who assessed the relationship of occupational physical activity with mortality with data from 17 studies. In all, the meta-analysis included health statistics from 193,696 participants collected between 1960 and 2010.

The team found men whose professions involved intense physical activity were 18% more likely to suffer an early death compared to those who worked more sedentary jobs.

Interestingly, the opposite appeared evidently true for women.

The researchers concluded: “The results of this review indicate detrimental health consequences associated with high level occupational physical activity in men, even when adjusting for relevant factors (such as leisure time physical activity). This evidence indicates that physical activity guidelines should differentiate between occupational and leisure time physical activity.”

The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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