So, exercise is always a good thing, right? Not necessarily.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine
indicates that people who get the most on-the-job exercise
also tend to suffer the most job stress - a combination that
could lead to an increased risk for heart attack.
followed the physical activity of 500 middle-aged employees
while monitoring the progression of their atherosclerosis
(buildup of fatty tissue along the inner lining of artery
walls), a condition that can lead to heart disease and life-threatening
heart attacks and strokes. Interestingly, although atherosclerosis
progressed more slowly in those who exercised more in their
leisure time, the condition progressed faster among those
who were physically active at work. According to James Dwyer,
PhD, "Atherosclerosis progressed significantly faster in people
with greater stress, and people who were under more stress
also were the ones who exercised more in their jobs."
However, when the workers were grouped based on work stress
alone, the connection between physical activity and atherosclerosis
disappeared, suggesting that the problem is actually due to
stress, not exercise; this means that the physical benefits
of exercise with regard to hardening of the arteries may be
ineffective when the exercise is combined with a stressful
job environment. Of course, it also reinforces the fact that
physical exercise can play an important role in keeping the
heart healthy and free of disease.
So, what does this mean for people who have physically demanding
jobs that are also major sources of stress? Exercise outside
of work, too! The study also found that the progression of
atherosclerosis slowed in those whose level of physical activity
increased during leisure time. To learn more about the benefits
of consistent, moderate exercise, go to www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/sports.
Dwyer J, Nordstrom CK, Dwyer KM, et al. Leisure
time physical activity and early atherosclerosis: the Los
Angeles Atherosclerosis Study. American Journal of Medicine
July 2003: Volume 115, Number 1, pp.19-25.