Too Much Physical Activity at Work Could Damage Heart Health


A new analysis of the Paris Prospective Study III has revealed physical activity at work and physical activity from sport have very different effects on cardiovascular health.


While most are encouraged to get in a certain amount of physical activity every day, a new study is showing that not all activity is created equal when it comes to impact on your heart.

The study, which was performed by an international team of investigators, found physical activity associated with work was not associated with the protective effects on cardiovascular health as activity such as playing a sport or going for a walk.

"Our findings represent a valuable avenue of research for improving our understanding of the associations between physical activity and cardiovascular disease,” said lead investigator Jean-Philippe Empana, MD, PhD, researcher at Inserm. “They do not suggest that movement at work is harmful for health, instead they suggest that chronic, strenuous activity at work may be.”

In an effort to evaluate potential associations between occupational, sport, leisure, and total physical activity with heart health through assessments of baroflex sensitivity (BRS)—distinguishing between neural BRS and mechanical BRS. All patients involved in the study were between the ages of 50 and 75 and had resting nBRS and mBRS through use of high-precision carotid echo-tracking.

Investigators obtained data on participants from the Paris Prospective Study III, which monitored more than 10,000 volunteers from France for 10 years. A total of 8649 participants were included in the current analysis and all participants completed survey assessing the frequency, duration, and intensity of their physical activity through sport, physical activity at work, and physical activity in their leisure time.

Upon analyses, investigators noted that among working adults(5039), occupational physical activity was associated with a worse nBRS while physical activity from sport was associated with better nBRS and mBRS. Additionally, no associations were noted between leisure activity or total physical activity with nBRS or mBRS.

Among non-working adults included in the study, physical activity from sports and total physical activity were associated with improved mBRS but not nBRS. Investigators noted findings suggest differential associations that could provide insight into the mechanisms between occupational PA and cardiovascular health.

“This study has major public health implications for physical activity at work,” Empana added. “We now want to expand our analysis to further explore the interactions between physical activity and the health status of people in the workplace.”

This study, titled “Association Between Occupational, Sport, and Leisure Related Physical Activity and Baroreflex Sensitivity,” was published online in Hypertension.

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