The kind of exercise you get matters

A very interesting new study on 104 046 individuals from the Copenhagen General Population Study that has been published in the European Heart Journal analyzes the difference between the cardiovascular benefits (or risks) you may get from the kind of activity you do at work as opposed to the benefits or risks associated with leisure-type activity.

And this will undoubtedly surprise a lot of people: Leisure-time activity – that is, exercise when not at work – seems to be way better at reducing the risks of what they call major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) and all-cause mortality (dying from any cause) than does activity at work.

Even more surprisingly, I think, the researchers also concluded that in fact “occupational physical activity associates with increased risks (of MACE)” and all-cause mortality.

In other words, the harder – physically – you have to work at your job, the greater the risk of these 2 crummy outcomes.

Overall, “the group with the combination of high leisure time physical activity and low occupational physical activity had the lowest risk of MACE and all-cause mortality”, meaning your best bet against dying prematurely, especially from a heart attack or stroke, is to do little physical activity at work (guilty!) and a good deal of exercise.

The authors don’t offer a good rationale for this discrepancy, particularly about why occupational activity would raise the risk of all-cause mortality although clearly stress in relation to working hard at work may play a key role.