The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)

The health risks of gig work

- Dr. Michael Roizen Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

These days, around 57 million Americans work in the “gig economy.” In addition, almost 5 million work for tips and as drivers, and nearly 15 million are paid mostly through commission­s or bonuses.

While there have always been folks whose pay depended on the projects they could hustle or the hours they worked, the pandemic caused the gig economy to boom. And lots of folks, from contract workers and freelancer­s to food deliverers and landscaper­s, found that they liked the flexibilit­y and autonomy that “gigging” provides.

But three studies in the Journal of Applied Psychology — one of waiters, one of “by the piece” online workers, and one of folks in finance, marketing and sales — show that there’s a price to pay for picking your own hours, being your own boss, and/or never being sure what your income is going to be. Your health can suffer.

Regardless of how much money a gig worker earns, having income uncertaint­y causes chronic stress that triggers headaches, stomach aches, backaches, eye strain and insomnia. That stress also is associated with less time spent exercising, eating less healthy foods and having unhealthy lifestyle habits.

If you’re a gig worker you need to make a commitment to your health by scheduling in daily time for exercise, adopting stress-reducing techniques like meditation, eating a plantbased diet, free of highly processed foods, and practicing good sleep habits (go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day). If you’re your own boss, set up rules for work and play — and enforce ‘em.

Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestseller­s. His next book is “The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow.” Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email questions@ GreatAgeRe­

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