Heart health: is your job putting you at risk?

Despite having an active job, a new study found those working in manual labour had the highest ‘heart age’ of the careers surveyed.

Manual labourers showed more key risk indicators of heart disease than any other career surveyed according to a new study by Bupa and the World Heart Federation.

On average they had a ‘heart age’ that was eight years older than their real age.

Experts say it’s likely higher rates of smoking and above average BMI’s among manual labour workers led to the increased ‘heart age’.

In contrast, those in active sedentary jobs like medical professionals, retail and sales staff had the lowest 'heart age' of any career.

Hearts age by sector

A doctor and a carpenter have each shared their insights on how work affects their health.

Working in manual labour

Zane Chenoweth is a 33-year-old carpenter, but according to the Bupa Heart Age Check his ‘heart age’ is 42 - nine years older than his calendar age.

“I’ve been smoking since I was 12-years-old so I’m not really surprised.” says Zane.

“If I were to get a physical I think I’d probably find out it was a lot worse.”

Working as a busy carpenter Zane says he rarely takes lunch breaks and finds it challenging to maintain a healthy diet at work.

“It’s more convenient and quicker to stop at a drive through,” says Zane.

But with a family history of heart disease, the father of three recently decided to make a commitment to his health and quit smoking.

“I decided to quit smoking three weeks ago and my boss encouraged me to.”

After hearing the results of his heart check Zane has decided to go to the doctor and get a physical.

man at doctors

Working in medicine 

Bupa GP and National Medical Director Dr Rob Grenfell’s ‘heart age’ was 52, one year younger than his actual age.

He says those working in ‘active sedentary’ jobs like the medical profession tend to have lower heart ages because of healthy work culture.

“That’s often due to the fact that we’re physically active at work, but also our workplaces tend to promote health and promote healthy lifestyles,” Dr Grenfell says.

“Instead of sitting down for a meeting, I prefer to do walking meetings,” he says. “I find they’re more creative, productive and it’s great to get out and stretch your legs.”

“All workplaces should be engaged in making their sites much healthier, so cut down the smoking or the chance of having smoking or help people get off the smokes,” he says.

Walking up the stairs at work

The advice

Johanna Ralston, CEO of the World Heart Federation says workplaces need to do more to help promote healthy choices.

“Individuals often find they simply cannot make the right choices for their heart health because of environmental factors, such as lack of access to healthy foods or smoke-free zones,” says Ralston.

"The places where we live, work and play should not increase our risk of cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke.”

Back to top