Published on 20 March 2015

A recent survey of workers in Wales found that two in five felt they were putting their health at risk due to the pressures of their job.

The recent survey carried out by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) linked a stressful working life with poor diet, not doing enough exercise and drinking and smoking more than people otherwise would. All of which can be a factor in developing health problems including type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart problems.

The BHF said 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.

Just 10 minutes of activity a day could improve health for workers

The BHF survey found two in five Welsh workers (40%) felt their job had a negative impact on their health in the last five years, with almost two thirds (61%) saying their general stress levels increased in the same time period due to their work.

When asked how their work has ever affected their health more than a third (37%) of Welsh workers said they had put on weight, with almost half of those (46%) saying their job has driven them to eat more unhealthily.

In addition, more than two fifths (43%) said their work has caused them to exercise less than they would like, while nearly a third (31%) said their job had led to them to drink more alcohol and one in 20 (5%) saying it had been a trigger for smoking more.

The survey also showed almost three fifths (59%) of Welsh employees regularly do unpaid overtime, with almost a third (31%) working more than five hours overtime a week. The pressures of work are leaving people concerned about their long-term health with almost a third (31%) fearing it could lead to a heart attack or heart condition. 

Productivity loss as a result of heart and circulatory conditions is estimated to cost businesses £8billion a year. However, research shows that 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.

“Small steps can make a big difference to your health. 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.”

For advice from the NHS on how to stop smoking visit here

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