Health & Fitness

Women must protect their health when working long hours

Mia Hamm dominated women’s soccer between 1987 and 2004. Then in 2007 she had twin girls, and in 2012, a son. “Life off the field has been just as demanding and hectic as training for the Olympics or world titles,” she’s confessed. Mia is lucky she didn’t have to juggle both at the same time! Turns out that the one-two combination of kids and work can take a serious toll on women.

A study from Ohio State shows that when women work 50 to 60 (or more) hours a week during their 20s, 30s and 40s, they amp up their risk for health problems down the road. Looking at long-range job history and health data for 7,492 participants in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, researchers found that most working women, but not men, have an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. (Men and women both risk arthritis.)

Working 41-50 hours a week (about 56 percent of folks) ups a women’s risk slightly; more than 51 hours is more risky; and averaging a 60-hour workweek over three decades dangerously triples their risk of those life-altering diseases. Fortunately, there’s something you can do.

--Daily De-Stressing: Meditate for 15 minutes; get 30 minutes of physical activity (an after-dinner family walk), connect with friends and don’t short-change yourself on sleep!

--Prioritize Tasks at Work and Home: Try to eliminate unnecessary activities. If possible, ask your boss about working from home; around 37 percent of workers do it occasionally; they’re just as productive as when they are in the office.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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