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Obesity Might Slow You Down at Work
Date:8/1/2014

researchers.

Obesity can affect the way muscles work, decreasing blood flow and thus reducing the amount of oxygen and energy that reaches the muscles, the authors explained. When contracting muscles for a sustained period of time, people who are obese can experience muscle fatigue sooner than others.

The research applies most to industrial environments where the tasks are repetitive and controlled, explained Cavuoto. In other jobs that require physical stamina, such as nursing, police and fire jobs, or even postal and delivery work, people typically perform a wider range of activities, so problems may be less noticeable. "But there will still be some effects," she said.

Today's workers who are obese may need more mini-breaks, explained Cavuoto. "Short periods of rest can have a big impact in getting the muscle back to its full capacity." While the amount of time a person might need to rest depends on the activity, even a few seconds of rest can help a muscle recover, she added.

The research is in the September issue of Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

For the study, the participants were divided into four groups of eight people each, based on age and obesity level: non-obese young, obese young, non-obese older, and obese older. Young people were defined as between 18 and 25 years of age, and older people were between 50 and 65 years of age. Obesity level was based on BMI, a number that estimates a person's body mass that's calculated from a person's weight and height.

The participants did three different tasks that involved squeezing an object, flexing their shoulders, and assembling small metal pieces into a pegboard. They were asked to continue until they felt they could no longer perform the task. After they stopped they reported their level of discomfort on a 10-point scale.

While the researchers took into account whether the participants had any previous injuries that might affect the c
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