- Charles Sturt conducts research into shift work effect on cardiovascular health
- Findings indicate shift workers at increased risk of cardio-metabolic conditions
- Results to be used to create intervention solutions
Charles Sturt University researchers have explored the effect shift work can have on cardiovascular health, and the results might leave you breathless.
PhD candidate Mr Blake Collins (pictured, inset) conducted the research with his supervisor Senior Lecturer in Exercise Science Dr Melissa Skein and co-supervisors Professor Frank Marino and Dr Tegan Hartmann, all in the School of Allied Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences.
They conducted research on the effect of shift work on cardio-metabolic health with the aim to establish potential disease mechanisms.
About 1.5 million Australians are currently employed in shift work in a range of industries, including health, emergency services, manufacturing, hospitality, and mining.
“The rotational labour structure contributes to increased access to essential services and a general improvement in quality of life, however, this structure is itself associated with an increased incidence of adverse health conditions,” Mr Collins said.
A total of 87 ‘healthy’ males in the Bathurst region were divided into two categories; those currently employed in rotational shift work, and non-shift counterparts.
Testing was conducted to assess cardiovascular and metabolic functions before the results were analysed to determine the effect of shift work on health.
Findings indicate that when employees are matched for lifestyle and behavioural co-factors, including current health status, sleep quality and physical activity, employment in rotational shift work significantly increases markers of future cardio-metabolic disease risk.
Shift workers took longer to metabolise a glucose dose and averaged an additional five kilograms of fat mass, which are both considered risk factors for the development of cardio-metabolic disease.
Mr Collins said shift work may be considered both essential to the modern economy and potentially hazardous for employee health.
“Shift work is associated with increased fat mass, inflammatory markers and glucose metabolism compared to non-shift counterparts,” he said.
Mr Collins said the results contribute to current research exploring the pathogenic effect of shift work and provide context for intervention strategies in the future.
The findings justify further research into health interventions among shift workers, according to Mr Collins.
Exercise has previously demonstrated health benefits, particularly in cardio-metabolic functions, however, limited research has been conducted among shift workers.
The same research team at Charles Sturt is currently investigating the effectiveness of acute and training-based exercise interventions but no results have been published yet.