Is Your Job Impacting Your Health?

Doctor and patient

Have you ever wondered how your current job is impacting your health? Did you know that the environment you work in can affect your health state, especially by the time you retire? New research suggests your job may be bad for you. 

Is your health predetermined?

Women speedwalking

Here at Alert1, we want you to age in good health and maintain your independence as long as possible. Your health depends on many factors, some of which you can’t change and some you can.

  • Genes. Your genes may affect your chance of developing illnesses such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Other genes may protect you from these negative health outcomes. Check your family history to better understand what you are susceptible to so you can take preventive measures.
  • Lifestyle. Living an active and healthy lifestyle is crucial. If you live an active lifestyle, you can reduce your chance of developing sickness. Exercise and maintain a proper diet for optimal health. And remember, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.
  • Occupation. If your job is stressful and you do not have much control over your work, you can develop burnout. Burnout is often associated with exhaustion, physical fatigue, and cognitive weariness. When experiencing burnout, you are at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease and sleep disorders.

Genes and lifestyle have been well-researched in the scientific field. Yet, the relationship between occupation and health leading up to retirement years has not been understood until recently. This new line of research may make you consider a change in your career. 

How healthy is your job?

Helping Dad with computer

Researchers Michael Engelman and Heide Jackson from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College were interested in investigating how someone’s job can affect their health. Based on data collected from the Health and Retirement Study, the researchers believe that individuals working in jobs with poor conditions will have worse health outcomes later in life such as coronary heart disease. They also found that Caucasian participants (both male and female) were more likely to be in the healthiest class as compared to other respondents.

You spend a good amount of time – perhaps 40 hours a week – at your job. You may enjoy your job, but it may not be healthy for you. Now is a great time for you to evaluate your work environment and stress levels as it could have a major impact on your health as you begin to age. We want to ensure your safety and health by protecting you from these potential negative effects.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself about your current job because research suggests that they are important to consider.  

  • How much control do you have over your work? Researcher Lauren Schmitz has studied how working conditions near the end of one’s career can contribute to health disparities. Using and analyzing data from the Health and Retirement Study, she found that if you have more control over your job then you will have better blood pressure levels, musculoskeletal conditions, and cognitive functioning. You are less likely to experience depression. This is definitely good news if you have enough autonomy over your own work on a day-to-day basis.
  • Do you have to travel a lot? To many, the idea of travel seems glamorous. Flying to Paris or to Australia for work may sound like an adventure and an escape from the stress of the office. While a little travel can be a nice change of pace, too much can be physically exhausting. While on the road you get less sleep and less exercise while eating more junk food. Business travel can be pretty sedentary, the opposite of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Is your work environment hazardous? Schmitz discovered that environmental hazards and other poor working conditions can lead to negative health outcomes, especially after the age of 50. Engaging in physical exertion and operating machinery can lead to fatigue. Think about the noise level in your office. Is there constant chatter? Are the phones always ringing in your ear? Constant noise can be stressful, impairing your physical and psychological health without you realizing it.

These research studies and questions highlight the importance of finding a job that best suits your individual needs. As you age, you want to avoid occupations that increase your level of stress and instead find occupations where you can exercise a good amount of autonomy. 

What are the best jobs for your health?

Professor teaching

CareerCast – a premier career site – powered by © 2015 Adicio Inc develops a list of the least stressful occupations every year. CareerCast receives their data from the Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, trade associations, and private survey firms. Based on this year’s data and analysis, these are the least stressful jobs of 2015.

  • Dietitian. There is a growing demand for dietitians today with society’s focus on proper nutrition. Unlike other health care professionals, most dietitians do not need to be “on call” and can work normal hours. As a dietician you can work in hospitals, schools, or nursing homes. You can even open your own practice.
  • Hairstylist. Hairstylists have the ability to work one-on-one with their customers and get to know them on a personal level. Hairstyling gives you an outlet to use your creative talent. You set your own schedule and maintain your clientele.
  • Librarian. Librarians have flexible schedules and the potential to engage in a diversity of duties such as conducting their own research, answering readers’ inquiries, and cataloguing library resources. As a librarian you enjoy a relaxed, calm, yet intellectual environment where learning happens every day.
  • Medical laboratory technician. These professionals are skilled scientists who discover the presence or absence of disease. They provide data that helps physicians determine the best treatment for patients. Their work is meaningful, and they have the opportunity to work at their own pace as compared to physicians, which is one the most stressful jobs in the medical field.
  • Tenured university professor. Becoming a tenured professor is the pinnacle of academia. Tenured professors have the most flexibility and control over their workload as well as research. However, it takes time and patience to receive tenure. Assistant and associate professors are under constant pressure balancing teaching and conducting research. Once they gain tenure, the occupation takes a 180-degree turn. 

Should you make a career change?

Helping Mom with paperwork

Where you work can dramatically influence the way you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. Alert1 wants you to age in place and experience your retirement years without any complications. We recommend that you should change your career only if you are experiencing high levels of stress and fatigue.

Before you begin dreaming about retirement, here are some tips on how you can change your career.

  • Network. Networking is a powerful tool. It’s all about who you know. People in your network can provide you with job leads, offer you valuable advice about a particular company or industry, and even introduce you to others to expand your professional circle. You can join professional associations or rely on your family and friends.
  • Gain experience. You are starting from square one when transitioning into a new career. It is important to do your research and gain the necessary experience needed for your new job. You can volunteer or do part-time work in the field before embarking on your new venture.
  • Find a mentor. A mentor will support you during the rough patches and help you get the tools you need in order to reach your professional dreams. Your mentor will be there for you throughout the process.

These recommendations will help you ease into a job that will decrease your levels of stress and in turn, increase your overall health. And that is our hope for you!