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Warning: Dealing with big-time stress on the job may land you in the emergency room down the road.
Researchers in Finland have discovered that continuous and excessive job strain, both mental (anything from having super-tight deadlines to having limited control of your work) and physical (anything that involves blood, sweat and tears), can result in more overnight hospital stays during your golden years.
The study, which took place over a 28-year period and started in 1981, involved more than 5,000 middle-aged Finnish adults. Those who had jobs that required muscle power took the biggest hit: For every 1,000 men who performed minimal physical tasks, they averaged eight hospital days each year, compared to 13 days for every 1,000 men who performed heavy duty manual labor. Many stays were for physical problems like irreversible pain and osteoarthritis.
Interestingly enough, when it came to mental-type jobs (like being an attorney, a surgeon or perhaps a writer — ha!), the hospital/physical activity ratio was “only clear among men.” It was noted however that mental stress has been linked to heart disease, which can also land you in the hospital.
"Job strain is something that is individually perceived, so persons working in similar jobs can report different amounts of job strain," Reuters reports lead researcher Mikaela von Bonsdorff as saying. "When talking about job strain it is important to remember that occasional feelings of job strain are not necessarily a bad thing, but persistent high job strain has been identified as a health hazard."
Like everything in life, there are pros and cons to both types of careers. Physical jobs will keep your body moving, but you’re more prone to accidents and the constant muscle strain may result in bone and joint problems (i.e. chronic joint and back pain). And while mental jobs may be “safer,” inactivity can lead to weight gain and heart disease.
So what’s the solution? Number one, take care of your body. Number two, the good news is that we live in a time when changing jobs is actually a good thing. Therefore, if you're miserable at your current company or in your chosen field, do yourself a favor and make it your 2014 goal to find employment elsewhere. Your body will thank you later.