K-State study: Overtime affects physical, mental health

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Working a lot of overtime may be great for your wallet, but not so great for your health.

A recent study by Kansas State University shows that those who work more than 50 hours per week are more likely to have lower physical and mental well-being.

“For the purpose of this study, what we were aiming to do was say for whatever reason you are choosing to work more, we wanted to see what the impacts were of working more hours to physical and mental well-being,” Sarah Asebedo, a doctoral student who conducted the study, said.

Asebedo and a team of colleagues studied data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, and based on their research, they found that people who work more than 50 hours per week are more likely to skip meals, leading to poorer physical health, as well as more reports of depression.

Dr. Robert Zettle, a psychology professor at Wichita State, is intrigued by the findings.

“I think we need to be cautious with the study and not over-interpret the findings,” he said.

Many factors play into why people work overtime, and that should play a role in the worker’s mental well-being.

“One needs to ask themselves the question, ‘What purpose or what function is working that many hours serving?’” he said. “And for some people simply to put food on the table and a roof over their head, with today’s economy and wages, they may have to work that many hours simply to accomplish those ends.”

But the study could shine light on why some workers are in poor health.

“That doesn’t mean every individual who works more than 50 hours does this,” Asebedo said. ‘Again, it’s important to look at yourself as an individual and assess how work is affecting and influencing your life and behavior.”

The study is published in this month’s Financial Planning Review.

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