According to a study that was published in the Melbourne Institute Worker Paper series, people who are older than 40 showed an optimal performance when they worked only 3 days per week. The study included 3500 Australian women and 3000 Australian men whose work habits were followed closely.
What the Researchers Did?
The researchers tested the ability of the men and women to recite a list of numbers and read words aloud. The first part of the testing assessed abilities like memory, executive reasoning, and abstract reason whereas the second part tested the ‘knowing’ part of ability.
It was concluded that the cognition of the participants significantly bettered when they worked 25 hours per one week. However, when they worked for 55 hours, their performance significantly decreased as a result of tiredness and stress.
One of the authors of the study and professor at Keio University, Colin McKenzie, points out that intellectual stimulation could be conditioned by the amount of working hours. Moreover, she emphasizes that although work triggers brain activity, working for more than 45 hours on a weekly basis can increase the level of fatigue and stress, which may in return minimize one’s cognitive performance.
The Amount of Working Hours Affects Cognition
The study further indicates that differences in working hours affect cognition in middle-aged adults and elderly. This being said, working part-time can help in maintaining the cognitive abilities at these ages.
The team found that working for more than 30 hours per week can have an adverse impact on the brain’s health in middle-aged adults. McKenzie also adds that working full-time, that is, 40 hours per week, can be more beneficial in maintaining optimal cognition than not working at all; however, this does not increase the positive effects of work.
It is vital to mention that the results will not be the same in all countries. Namely, this is because it is difficult to control all of the factors that contribute to the end results of any study of this kind, for example, type of work and the hours of work. All in all, the end results showed that full-time work can negatively affect the brain of people older than 40.