During the week, if you basically live at the office and don’t even have time to catch up on a single episode of the latest season of Queer Eye, then the notion of a work-life balance probably seems like a straight-up myth. It doesn’t have to be, though. By establishing some boundaries, you can make an unwavering commitment to your personal life—and to your health. A new study demonstrated that establishing off-duty time is even more important than previously thought: Women who work too much have a significantly increased chance of developing diabetes (seriously).
The study, published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, analyzed health survey data collected over a 12-year period from 7,065 Canadians aged 35 and 74 years old to evaluate the connection between long work hours (defined as 45 hours a week or more, in case you were wondering) and diabetes. The results showed that the women who worked upwards of 45 hours a week had a 63 percent greater risk of the insulin-challenged condition than those who worked between 35 and 40 hours weekly. (The average in the United States, by the way, is 34.5 hours a week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)
“If you think about all the unpaid work they do on their off-hours, like household chores for example, they simply do more than men, and that can be stressful, and stress negatively impacts your health.” —Mahee Gilbert-Ouimet, study co-author
Curiously though, findings showed that workaholic men don’t suffer the same fate. While the study didn’t address the gender difference, researchers hypothesize that it may be because, for women, work doesn’t necessarily end once they leave their cubicle for the day. “If you think about all the unpaid work they do on their off-hours, like household chores, for example, they simply do more than men, and that can be stressful, and stress negatively impacts your health,” study co-author Mahee Gilbert-Ouimet, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, tells CNN.
Not only are women working longer hours overall than men are—nearly an hour more every day—but they also don’t get paid as well as men do. (Just the thought of it is enough to make my blood pressure climb.) “Even when men and women do similar work, women earn less. Of course, that would impact women’s health. Think about the stress of working harder and getting less for it,” Gilbert-Ouimet says.
Talk about serious motivation for demanding what you deserve. By finding an employer who not only pays you a competitive salary but also respects your right to an healthy existence outside the office, your quality of life will drastically improve. Because living to work shouldn’t be the standard—especially when it assaults your good health.