Small Business Owners Putting Work Before Health

A new study says the bad economy has been hazardous to the health of many

There's an old saying about working smarter, not harder. A lot of small business owners feel like that's been updated to working harder, not healthier.

Party planner and toy store owner Don Queen says he works 11 hours a day, seven days a week.  He says keeping his "Happy Parties" store running in this economy is taking a toll on his health.

“Because of the situation with me not making the money I used to," said Queen. "I’m affected because I cut back. Unfortunately, health insurance was the first thing to go.”

He isn't alone. A new study by Manta, an online community for small businesses, says nearly half of small business owners surveyed admit to putting work before health. Most say they work well over 40 hours a week. They also say they are short-tempered and that they've gained weight.

It's not surprising, said NBC4 Medical Editor Dr. Bruce Hensel.

“When you’re under stress, and are working a lot of hours, you’re not sleeping as well and you tend to chose foods that are not healthy," says Dr. Hensel. "You choose fast food, you don’t digest it as well, your hormonal balance changes, and you’re at risk of heart attack, stroke and other problems.”

Dr. Hensel advises his stressed out patients to plan ahead. He says busy people need to schedule exercise and routine medical tests as part of their week.

“Everybody’s worried about the economy," says Dr. Hensel. "But if you don't stay healthy, it doesn't matter how much money you make.”

Don Queen says he'll try to do better. But he's got bills to pay.

“If the economy picked up, that sure would help," he says.

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