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Sweat it out

Late nights and long hours at work are not a good idea if you want to stay healthy & happy.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 30, 2010 19:25 IST
Veenu Singh

The day Yash Anand bagged a job with an established PR firm felt like one of the best days of his life. The 24-year-old quickly grew to love his job, the money he made every month, and his colleagues as well. But a few months ago, after his company laid off several employees, life just as quickly took a turn for the worse.

“Suddenly I seemed to be doing everything singlehandedly and had no idea how many hours I was working,” says Anand, adding, “Soon my friends started complaining that I didn’t have time to meet them or even take their calls. I would feel stressed the whole day and was not able to relax. I lost my appetite, got headaches and my smoking habit increased to a full pack a day.”

Says Dr Sandip Buddhiraja, head, internal medicine, Max Healthcare, “People today spend too many hours working and this is taking its toll on their physical as well as mental health, and leading to a breakdown of relationships.”

Toiling Away
The real perils of overwork are:
According to Dr Buddhiraja, overwork and stress are always correlated, so there is a strong possibility that people who fall in this category might develop symptoms of diseases like hypertension, cholesterol and depression, with increased chances of heart attacks.”

Studies have shown that overworked people generally complain of headaches, fatigue, irritability and lack of sleep. They also suffer from weight gain, constant backaches and joint pain. Says Dr Pratip Mandal, consultant, sports medicine,

Moolchand Orthopaedics Hospital, New Delhi, “Constantly sitting for long hours can weaken your muscles and joints. Poor posture can also lead to constant backaches. In the last couple of years, I have been surprised to see so many young people complaining of severe spine problems like slip disc without any major injury to trigger such a problem. Instead, poor posture and a bad lifestyle have contributed to the situation.”

Overwork can also lead to a host of mental and emotional problems. “You can have spells of depression, low levels of tolerance, alienation and even isolation from your loved ones and can easily lead to burnout,” says Gagandeep Kaur, clinical psychologist at Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi.

According to Kaur, various psychosomatic problems may also surface in such a situation. “The person may feel some strange pain in the body or even experience dizziness the moment they have to leave for work,” explains Kaur.

The big chill
Fortunately, there are some simple solutions that can reduce the side effects of overwork.

“The most important thing to keep in mind is the fact that you need to exercise your joints in order to keep them healthy,” says Dr Mandal, adding, “Any form of exercise is like an extra reserve of energy that also helps in fighting tension. All you need to do is engage in some brisk walking for at least 20 minutes regularly. And make sure to take a short break every half an hour at work. Get up to drink water or walk around to chat with colleagues. Maintain a good posture.”

Another important thing is to enjoy your work. If you do, then you are unlikely to be stressed out by every small thing. Says Kaur, “Learn to work at a realistic pace, relax and enjoy your periods of relaxation. You may be on several social networking sites, but you have to take out time to actually socialise and meet your friends.”

And learn to unwind at home, say experts. “Take out 10 minutes to take a short walk, listen to music or do something that you enjoy. Give your family your full attention at home and be positive in your approach towards life,” sums up Kaur.

Do not...
Skip breakfast:
This will cause you to starve through the day, and lower your metabolic capacity.
Have too much tea and coffee: It increases acidity.
Snack away: Many snacks you may eat in the office, specially the fried ones, are loaded with hidden fats.
Have a heavy, late dinner: Difficult to digest, piles up calories.
Little or no fibre in the food plan, leads to a build up of toxins.

Info courtesy Dr Shikha Sharma