Our occupations have a significant impact on our overall health, including the health of our hearts. Certain jobs can expose individuals to various levels of physical activity, stress, and lifestyle factors that can either support or strain cardiovascular health. So which jobs are associated with the best and worst heart health? Let’s shed some light on how different work environments and demands can influence heart well-being.
Jobs with the Best Heart Health
- Fitness Instructors and Personal Trainers: It’s no surprise that professions centered around physical activity, such as fitness instructors and personal trainers, often have excellent heart health. These professionals engage in regular exercise themselves and encourage others to adopt an active lifestyle. Physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure, and enhances overall cardiovascular fitness (Sattelmair et al., 2011).
- Outdoor Professions: Jobs that require spending significant time outdoors, such as park rangers, gardeners, or forestry workers, often contribute to good heart health. Exposure to natural light, fresh air, and the benefits of physical labor can have positive effects on cardiovascular function and mental well-being.
- Healthcare Professionals: While the healthcare industry can be stressful, healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, tend to have a good understanding of heart health. This awareness often translates into better lifestyle choices and adherence to heart-healthy behaviours (Beckie et al., 2012). Although this may be slightly mitigated by shift work as mentioned below.
Jobs with the Worst Heart Health
- Desk Jobs: Sedentary jobs that require long hours of sitting, such as office workers, programmers, and call center employees, are associated with poorer heart health outcomes. Prolonged sitting contributes to a sedentary lifestyle, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (Stamatakis et al., 2019).
- High-Stress Professions: Jobs with high stress levels, like emergency responders, air traffic controllers, and financial traders, can have detrimental effects on heart health. Chronic stress triggers the release of stress hormones, which can lead to increased blood pressure, inflammation, and other risk factors for heart disease (Steptoe et al., 2012).
- Shift Workers: Professionals who work irregular hours, such as nurses on rotating shifts, factory workers, and truck drivers, often experience disruptions in their sleep patterns. Irregular sleep can negatively impact heart health by affecting circadian rhythms and increasing the risk of conditions like hypertension and metabolic disorders (Morikawa et al., 2005).
Our occupations play a pivotal role in shaping our heart health but this doesn’t mean that it’s time for a career change. While certain jobs provide opportunities for physical activity, stress reduction, and healthy lifestyle choices, others may involve prolonged sitting, high stress levels, or irregular work hours that contribute to poor cardiovascular outcomes. Regardless of the nature of your job, it’s important to prioritise heart health through regular exercise, stress management, and maintaining a heart-healthy diet. Ultimately, making conscious choices to support cardiovascular well-being can lead to a healthier and more fulfilling professional life.
- Sattelmair, J., Pertman, J., Ding, E. L., Kohl, H. W., Haskell, W., & Lee, I. M. (2011). Dose response between physical activity and risk of coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis. Circulation, 124(7), 789-795.
- Beckie, T. M., Beckstead, J. W., & Schocken, D. D. (2012). The effects of a tailored cardiac rehabilitation program on depressive symptoms in women. The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 27(2), 130-136.
- Stamatakis, E., Gale, J., Bauman, A., Ekelund, U., Hamer, M., & Ding, D. (2019). Sitting Time, Physical Activity, and Risk of Mortality in Adults. JAMAJAMA Network Open, 2(5), e194276.
- Steptoe, A., Kivimäki, M., & Marmot, M. (2012). Stress and cardiovascular disease. Nature Reviews Cardiology, 9(6), 360-370.
- Morikawa, Y., Nakagawa, H., Miura, K., Soyama, Y., Ishizaki, M., Kido, T., … & Kido, T. (2005). Shift work and the risk of diabetes mellitus among Japanese male factory workers. Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health, 31(3), 179-183.