News

April 26, 2011 - Anonymous

Long working hours increase risk of heart attack by almost 70 per cent

Small-business owners are being warned that regularly working more than 11 hours could increase their risk of heart disease by 67 per cent, according to new research, writes Clare Bullock.

Research by the Medical Research Council has found that working 11 hours or more a day, as opposed to the standard 7-8 hours, raised the risk of having a heart attack by two thirds. The study of over 7,000 participants was conducted over 11 years.

While small-business owners regularly work long hours to cope with heavy workloads, experts suggest that this could be counter-productive. Instead, they should focus on better time management to boost productivity, reducing the need to work 11 hour days.

“What people don’t realise is that the longer hours you work the less productive you become,” said Stress Management Society director, Neil Shah.

“Your brain only has the capacity to focus for so long,” he added. “Research suggests after 90 minutes you need to take a break, otherwise your ability to focus and keep your attention on one particular issue diminishes massively.

“People who work shorter days and have time to relax, socialise and exercise in the evening will be refreshed and sleep better at night,” said Shah. “This means they’ll be more efficient the next day at work.”

“Prioritise and delegate,” he added. “When we have a heavy workload we tend to sacrifice the things that will increase our productivity. We’ll have a sandwich at our desk and not have a proper lunch break or take regular breaks. However, it’s those breaks that make you more efficient.”

Director of small business Best Years, an online toy retailer, Gaynor Humphrey, said: “I work more than 11 hours a day every day other than Saturday.

“I don’t think I have increased health risks because I work at a time and a place that suits me,” she added. “I get up an hour before the kids and do a bit of work, then do the school run, then work, so it all fits in.

“I found that when I was in an office environment my productivity levels declined at certain times of day,” said Humphrey. “My day is regulated by different jobs, so I am not always at a high pressure level. The way I work manages productivity levels as well.”