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Flexible Working Hours Aid Healthy Lifestyle

More control over working hours means better sleep and healthier choices

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- People who perceive themselves as having jobs with sufficiently flexible working hours tend to have lifestyle behaviors that support better health, according to a report published in the December issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Joseph G. Grzywacz, Ph.D., of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues conducted a study of 3,193 U.S. employees of a large pharmaceuticals company, and collected data on their perceptions of workplace flexibility as well as five health behaviors: sleep, frequency of physical activity, attendance at health education seminars, personal resilience practices and self-appraised lifestyle.

There was a positive association between all the health behaviors, with the exception of seminar attendance, and perceived job flexibility. Cross-sectional analysis showed the most significant associations were with sleep and self-appraised lifestyle, but the authors caution that this does not necessarily imply a cause-and-effect relationship.

"The results from this study did not fully support the hypothesis of positive associations between all health behaviors and perceived flexibility; nevertheless, they still provide additional support for including workplace flexibility in an organization's overall approach to worksite health promotion," the authors write. "We recommend placing flexibility in the forefront because of its implications and possible link to better overall physical and mental health."

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