New research published by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research suggests that working too much after the age of 40 may cause serious health and cognitive problems.
While it is considered to be common knowledge that working after 40 actually improves cognitive function, it seems that working too much is considered to be dangerous. And actually, according to the research people who worked more than fifty five (55) hours per week, suffered from worse cognitive problems compared to people who were unemployed or didn’t work at all.
The study was probably the msot extensive of its kind to date and covered more than 3,500 woman and 3,000 men over forty. Each of them had a full cognitive test while monitoring his or hers work habits.
For example, the test subjects were checked for their ability to recall lists of numbers and match letters and numbers in speed trials. This test is known in Australia as the Hilda which stands for the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey. Another important part of the test was the ability to read words aloud. All these mini-tests actually check the person’s ability to “think” (memory and executive reasoning) and to “know” (reading).
Current research stresses that intellectual stimulation is good for the brain at the later stages of life. Researchers in the field of Neuroplasticity (The field that tries to check the brain’s ability to create new neural connections and actually “fix itself” throughout life) believe that doing tasks such as Sodoku and crosswords can sustain and improve brain functions in older people. Now it seems that over-stimulation can do the exact opposite and might actually hurt you.
The author of the test is Professor Colin McKenzie of the Faculty of Economics in Keio University, Japan. He mentioned in a “Times” interview that in many countries the age of retirement keeps going up. Now he says that these countries must factor in the amount of work done by people and not just the age until they are forced to work.
McKenzie explains that the amount of intellectual stimuli is liked directly to the number of working hours. While work can be seen as beneficial and help prevent brain injury and decline, it can also cause stress, depression and damage cognitive functions.
The solution? Probably part time work which can help middle aged people retain mental activity and abilities while not be too much to damage the brain.
Summary of issues that affect you if you work more than 40 hours a week (at any age)
- People Working more than 10 hours a day have a sixty percent increased risk for cardiovascular issues.
- 1 out of ten people working more than 50 hours/week report severe relationship issues; the rate increases to 3 out of 10 after 60 work weeks.
- eople Working more than 40 hours a week have significant higher chances to develop smoking and alcohol dependencies. Most people who work more than 50 hours/week suffer from unhealthy weight gain.
- Remember thelaw of diminishing marginal utility? It seems that very little productivity happens after your work more than 50 hours a week.
- There is a much increased risk for depression and social anxiety for people who had more than 10 hours of overtime a month.
- You are much more likely to injure if you work more hours. After 60 hours of work per week, your injury risks jumps in-proportionally.
- Working more after the age of 40 is associated with deteriorated cognitive function.
- Working long hours is just no fun. Spend some time with your family and friends. Almost nobody said on his deathbed that he should have worked more. Usually people complain that they should have spent more time with their family or loved ones.