Study: Physically demanding jobs could lead to early death

Men in physically demanding jobs may be a risk for an early death, a study published Monday found.

The study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine is a meta-analysis of data from 193,696 participants. It found physically tough jobs can increase the risk of an early death in men by as much as 18 percent beyond that of a typical office job.

Lead researcher Pieter Coenen, from the department of public and occupational health at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, told CBS News the results of the study are important, but more research is needed to prove a definite link.

"Our findings suggest that there are contrasting health outcomes associated with occupational and leisure-time physical activity," Coenen said. "So these men, who are mostly from lower socioeconomic groups, are exposed to unhealthy physical activity at work and only benefit to a lesser extent from the positive health effects of leisure-time physical activity."

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The type of job a man does could also have an impact on his risk of an early death. Coenen used coal miners as an example, who not only have high occupational physical activity, but also face many other hazards.

The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report recommends individuals achieve 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. However, the report does not distinguish between work and leisure activity.

Coenen said this is important because people who are highly active at work are typically less active during leisure time. However, a sedentary lifestyle increases a person's risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertensions, type 2 diabetes and obesity, according to the report.

A way to reduce the risk of death from physically demanding jobs is to simply decrease the amount of physical work a man does, Coenen said. This may not always be possible, however, and "an easier option may be to keep encouraging people to remain physically active during leisure time."

"This may help these workers to balance the negative health effects of occupational physical activity with the positive effects of leisure-time physical activity," Coenen told CBS.

David Katz, the director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, who was not involved in the study, told CBS "there is a big difference" between working out for fitness and working in a physically demanding job.

Working out for leisure is designed with both physicality and comfort in mind. A physical job often is repetitive and stresses certain body parts over others, suggesting there could be a "direct adverse effect of cumulative physical stresses over time," according to Katz.

However, Katz offered another explanation that doesn't involve the body, but the minds of these men that may not have any other options.

"What appears to be the adverse effect of the work done on the job might additionally, or even alternatively, be the adverse effect of poverty, psychological stress, perhaps depression, and other lifestyle differences that track with these [types of jobs]," Katz told CBS.

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