A new study has suggested that employees who have more control over their daily activities and can take up challenging tasks they enjoy, are likely to be in better health.
The study, led by John Mirowsky, a sociology professor with the Population Research Centre at the University of Texas at Austin, people who do creative work, whether paid or not, feel healthier and have fewer physical problems.
"The most important finding is that creative activity helps people stay healthy. Creative activity is non-routine, enjoyable and provides opportunity for learning and for solving problems. People who do that kind of work, whether paid or not, feel healthier and have fewer physical problems," Mirowsky said.
Additionally, although people who work give up some independence, the study found that having a job does lead to better health.
"One thing that surprised us was that the daily activities of employed persons are more creative than those of non-employed persons of the same sex, age and level of education," Mirowsky said.
The study comprised of 2,592 adults who responded to a 1995 national telephone survey; researchers followed up respondents in 1998.
The survey addressed general health, physical functioning, how people spent their time on a daily basis and whether their work, even if unpaid, gave them a chance to learn new things or do things they enjoy.
"The health advantage of being somewhat above average in creative work [in the 60th percentile] versus being somewhat below average [in the 40th percentile] is equal to being 6.7 years younger," Mirowsky said.
He added that it is also equal to having two more years of education or 15 times greater household income.
Mirowsky said that the jobs, which are high-status, with managerial authority, or that require complex work with data generally provide more access to creative work.
However, he added, "People with a wide variety of jobs manage to find ways to make them creative."
The study is published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.