A new study out of Colorado State University has found that physical stress in one’s job may be associated with faster brain aging and poorer memory.
Aga Burzynska, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and her research team connected occupational survey responses with brain-imaging data from 99 cognitively normal older adults, age 60 to 79. They found that those who reported high levels of physical stress in their most recent job had smaller volumes in the hippocampus and performed poorer on memory tasks. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that is critical for memory and is affected in both normal aging and in dementia.
Their findings were published this summer in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience under the research topic “Work and Brain Health Across the Lifespan.”
“We know that stress can accelerate physical aging and is the risk factor for many chronic illnesses,” Burzynska said. “But this is the first evidence that occupational stress can accelerate brain and cognitive aging.”
She added that it is important to understand how occupational exposures affect the aging of our brains.
“An average American worker spends more than eight hours at work per weekday, and most people remain in the workforce for over 40 years,” Burzynska said. “By pure volume, occupational exposures outweigh the time we spend on leisure social, cognitive, and physical activities, which protect our aging minds and brains.”
Work stress, family stress, emotional stress, stress from bills to be paid, and a lot are stresses we face every day. Stress has become a part of life. Millions of people live in a state of constant pressure, and according to the American Institute of Stress, about thirty-three percent of people report feeling extreme stress (https://www.stress.org/daily-life). Stress and causes of stress are so numerous that one is tempted to declare one stressor more significant than another.
With an understanding of the adverse effects of stress on a person’s physical and mental health, many individuals seek ways to reduce stress. However, many people go about it the wrong way. People rely on unhealthy behaviors like smoking and frequent alcohol use as a way to manage stress without knowing that this is a harmful practice. According to Drinkaware (https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/lifestyle/alcohol-not-a-cure-for-stress/), although alcohol may help people deal with stress in the short term, in the long term, it can cause a feeling of anxiety and depression and make the pressure more difficult with which to deal. People who drink or smoke heavily are more likely to suffer from mental health problems.
If smoking and drinking aren’t effective against stress, what is?
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