New Study Proves Why You Should Work Only Three Days A Week after Forty

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Once you reach forty, you may find that you aren’t able to focus as well as before. Your memory too may not be as sharp. While there are several thousand people who being forty hardly makes a difference in terms of health and mental faculties, the general perception is that reaching middle age requires you to slow things down.

A new study out of Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research has proved why you should work less after forty. It found that working thirty hours a week benefits cognitive function when you’re forty but if you work longer than that it could take a toll on one’s performance.


1 The test of knowing and thinking

Those who work 55 hours a week displayed an increased level of cognitive decline than those who did not work, were retired or were unemployed. 3500 females and 3000 male volunteers all above forty took part in the study. The performance of the subjects was being monitored while they did various cognitive tasks.

The test that was given to the participants was called household Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia. It measured how people were able to read words aloud, match letters and numbers in speed trials. They were also made to recite number lists. The test author Professor Colin McKenzie of the University of Melbourne said that knowing and thinking were important indicators of the level of cognitive function in people. Knowing constituted an element of ability while thinking comprised memory, abstract and executive reasoning.

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2 Excess brain stimulation can have an adverse effect on cognitive function

A certain degree of intellectual stimulation is required to retain cognitive function at a later age. Doing puzzles, crosswords and Sudoku preserved brain power in elderly people but excess stimulation had the opposite effect.

Professor McKenzie also stated that in many countries, the retirement age was being raised which forced people to work longer because they could only claim benefits at a later age. The amount of work at this pointy of life is extremely relevant to the subject of cognitive function decline. Working hours greatly impacted the level of intellectual stimulation but working too long leads to fatigue, stress and damages brain function which is why you should work less after forty.

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3 Those after forty should maintain a good balance between work and rest

The professor said that part time work was best suited to those who want to preserve their brain function after forty and at an older age. You need to work less after forty but the big question is how will people afford not to work and what type of work influences or increase such factors. The only problem in the study is that the type of work is not taken into consideration so whether a less stressful job which people enjoy is really damaging cognitive function or not can’t really be said.

Professor McKenzie states “It’s very difficult to identify the causal effects of the type of work on cognitive functions. People may be selected into certain occupations according to their cognitive abilities.” It is obvious that stressful conditions at work do generally damage anyone’s health. When most people are forced to work after forty, it becomes important to rest, go on vacations, and reduce work time. Working full time 40 hours a week is of course better than no work at all but it won’t increase the problem. Balance of course is necessary between work and rest even as certain governments are planning to increase the retirement age to 67.

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