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Carreer Junction by Michele Majul-IbarraVacations could make you live longer

by Michele Majul-Ibarra

We all know as early as May, a lot of employees start getting anxious to take advantage of the warmer weather. Some go camping with their families, some start planning road trips with friends, or for some, the Winnipeg Whiteout Street Party has been a regular hangout. However, not all employees have an easy time getting away from work.

Did you know that the average Canadian works some 1,750 hours per year, 300 hours more per year than the average French or German worker? This is the third-longest working year of any advanced democracy after the United States and Australia.

In a recent Carleton University survey, researchers found that people now spend one-third of their time at the office and half of the time they work at home reading and answering emails. And 30 per cent of that time, the e-mails are neither urgent nor important. They found that 11.7 hours are spent at work and 5.3 hours at home every week.

The study surveyed 1,500 people across six organizations, most of whom were highly educated Gen-Xers and baby boomers. Almost all were in professional and management positions, had been in their current jobs for a substantial amount of time and had an average work week of 47.2 hours. Sixty per cent were women.

They also found that the participants acknowledged missing three days of work in a six-month period because of emotional fatigue, four days because of issues with caregiving obligations and almost five sick days.

On top of that, one in five had thought about leaving their jobs.

For a healthier and more productive workforce, people need to be able to take care of themselves and take advantage of holidays when they can. Scientific studies show that men and women who take vacations live longer than those who do not.

In fact, the journal Psychosomatic Medicine published a study where researchers found that among middle-aged men who were at high risk for coronary heart disease, those who went on a regular vacation of at least once a year were 21 per cent less likely to die of any cause other than old age. The study also found that they are 32 per cent less likely to die of heart disease.

There is increasing evidence that vacations are really necessary for good health. Using the Framingham Heart Study, the longest-running study of cardiovascular disease, found that women who took a vacation once every six years or less were eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease or have a heart attack compared to those women who took a vacation at least twice a year.

Although vacations are a time to relax and reduce stress, many workers have a hard time leaving their work behind. This is especially true for small business owners, sales professionals and individuals in managerial positions who have few resources to help carry the workload in their absence.



This article is intended for information purposes only and not to be considered as professional advice.

Michele Majul-Ibarra, IPMA-ACP holds an Advanced Certified HR Professional Designation with the International Personnel Management Association. She graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and a Certificate in Human Resource Management. She also holds the C.I.M. professional designation (Certified in Management). E-mail her at

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