July 11, 2012

Women Working Long Hours Tend To Gain Weight

Connie K. Ho for - Your Universe Online

In this day and age, work and home life can be a stressful balance for women. On the one hand, women have more opportunities in the work place than ever. On the other hand, as women may take on more tasks and responsibilities at work, it may have a negative impact on their health. In particular, scientists recently found that middle-aged women who work long hours have a higher chance of leading less healthy lifestyles and have a greater likelihood of gaining weight than their counterparts who work less hours.

The study included over 9,000 women who were between the ages of 45 and 50. The results spanned a two-year period and showed that female employees who worked more than 49 hours a week gained an average of 1.9% of their weight, as compared to those who worked part-time and gained 1.5% of their weight.

"These findings suggest that not working may have some protective effect against weight gain and may help promote weight loss," wrote the researchers in the report that´s published in the International Journal of Obesity. "This may be related to those women having more time to spend on maintaining a healthy body weight."

In the project, women who were overworked tended to pick up unhealthy habits. In particular, women who worked long hours, classified as between 41 to 48 hours a week, or worked very long hours, classified as over 49 hours a week, had a tendency to smoke, to drink copiously, to sleep less, and to not exercise. In particular, 65% of the women who worked long hours drank at unhealthily levels as compared to 42% of women who did not participate in the workforce or 53 percent who were considered unemployed.

"Working women are faced with so many different time pressures, which leaves them with less time to engage in physical activity and less time to prepare healthy meals," lead author Nicole Au of Monash University in Melbourne told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Researchers believe that employed women should look at the study to better understand how their work is affecting their health.

''These statistics “¦ provide some clues as to how employment patterns may affect lifestyle choices, and subsequently, body weight,'' remarked Au in the International Journal of Obesity.

Research findings showed that 55% of the women gained weight over the two-year period, while 31% lost weight.

"Employed women had the greatest mean weight change (1.6%), and the smallest mean weight loss among losers," stated researchers in the study. "Among the employed sample, mean changes in weight increased with work hours (from 1.5% for part-time hours to 1.9%t for very long hours)."

For women who are interested in completing aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises at work, WebMD offers a number of tips and solutions. A few of the recommendations include running in place, simulating jumping rope, taking the stairs, walking during a lunch break, and practicing yoga postures. Also, whenever possible, complete tasks standing rather than sitting.