In a recent study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, researchers found that hard physical work is linked to a 55% higher risk of developing dementia.
The research was from the University of Copenhagen and one author is Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen.
Previous studies have found that the muscles and joints are not the only parts of the body to be worn down by physical work. The brain and heart suffer too.
In the study, the team used data from the Copenhagen Male Study (CMS), which included 4,721 Danish men, who back in the 1970s reported data on the type of work they did on a daily basis.
Through the years, the researchers compiled health data on these men, including data on the development of dementia conditions.
They found that hard physical work is a ‘good’ form of physical activity for health and linked to a much higher risk of dementia.
The effect is strong even when they took smoking, blood pressure, overweight, alcohol intake and physical activity in one’s spare time into account.
The researchers suggest that hard physical work may have a negative effect on the heart blood circulation and thus also on the blood supply to the brain.
This may for example lead to the development of cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, blood clots in the heart, heart cramps and heart failure.
For workmen, it is not enough for example to avoid heavy lifts if they wish to remain in the profession until age 70.
People with a shorter education doing manual labor also need to take preventive steps by strengthening the body’s capacity via for example exercise and strength training.
The team says guides from the health authorities should therefore differentiate between physical activity in your spare time and physical activity at work, as there is reason to believe that the two forms of physical activity have opposite effects.
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