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Long hours and no exercise can kill you

Unfit men who work long hours double their risk of dying from heart disease, researchers warned today.

Those who do not take enough exercise and work more than 45 hours a week are more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as unfit men who work shorter hours.

However, exercise seems to be the key to healthiness -- with fit men who work long hours having no increased risk of dying from heart disease.

The study, published in the journal Heart, examined data for almost 5,000 men aged 40 to 59. Health and fitness levels were tracked over a 30-year period.

The men completed cycling exercise tests to assess their fitness and provided details on the average number of hours they worked every week.

More than two thirds of the men (69pc) worked between 41 and 45 hours a week, while almost one in five (19pc) worked longer hours.

Over the course of the study, there were 587 deaths from heart disease caused by narrowing and hardening of the arteries.

Experts found that men who were unfit were at the greatest risk of dying from heart disease, particularly if they worked long hours.

Those who were both unfit and worked more than 45 hours a week were more than twice as likely to die from the disease as men working under 40 hours.

But physically fit men working longer hours were 45pc less likely to die of heart disease than those who were unfit.

Even men who were moderately fit and worked long hours had a significantly lower risk of dying than the unfit men.

The authors said it seems that work -- irrespective of whether it is physically demanding or not -- leads to a rise in heart rate and blood pressure.

However, a high level of fitness cuts the negative effect on the body and speeds up recovery time, leaving people less tired and irritable and sleeping better.