Could your job be taking its toll on you in more ways than one? A new survey shows it’s time to put your health first

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A new survey from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has shown that millions of the UK’s workforce feels they’re putting their heart health at risk due to the stresses of their job.

Conducted as part of the charity’s Heart Month, the findings showed that two in five people feel their job has had a negative impact on their health in the last five years. A third said that they thought they had put on weight because of their work and almost half (49%) had said that their job had driven them to eat more unhealthily.

More than two fifths said that their work had caused them to exercise less than they would like and nearly a quarter had said that it had led to them to drinking more alcohol, with 9% saying it had been a trigger for smoking more too.

The survey also showed that 60% of employees regularly do unpaid overtime, with 19% working more than five hours overtime a week.

The charity is now calling for employers to encourage their employees to spend a small portion of their days improving their lifestyles for the remainder of Heart Month by joining its Health At Work programme and its 10 Minute Heart Month Challenge starting on the 16th of February.

Obesity, lack of physical activity and smoking all increase the risk of coronary heart disease – the nation’s single biggest killer. But the BHF says that employers encouraging their workforce to take as little as 10 minutes every day to improve their health at work can lead to significant benefits in employee heart health and productivity.

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Productivity loss as a result of heart and circulatory conditions is estimated to cost businesses £8billion a year.* However research shows of the vast majority of companies (82%) with employee wellness programmes see reduced sickness absence and a 15% increase in output.**

Lisa Young, Project Manager for the BHF’s Health at Work programme, said: “This survey is a stark reminder of just what happens when we don’t take our health at work seriously enough. Millions of people say they are smoking more, exercising less and putting on weight because they’re not considering the impact their job is having on their health and wellbeing.

“Behaviours like these can be extremely damaging, not just to your heart health but also to businesses. From working with over with 9,500 organisations we know that the payoffs of making health at work a top businesses priority are too great to ignore.

“Small steps can make a big difference to your health. This Heart Month we’re working with organisations across the UK to encourage employees to take 10 minutes every day to make positive changes which could have a life-long benefit to their health.”

The BHF’s Health at Work programme offers free expert advice to employers to help improve the health and productivity of their workforce. More than 9,500 organisations have already benefitted, helping their workers get active, eat well and reduce their stress.

To sign up for the British Heart Foundation’s Health at Work 10 Minute Challenge, visit .

*Allender S. Scarborough P. Peto V et al – European Cardiovascular Disease Statistics. Brussels: European Heart Foundation 2008.

**PricewaterhouseCoopers – Building the Case for Wellness, 2008