Association between physical activity and sickness absenteeism in university workers

Tidsskriftartikel - 2019


BACKGROUND: Sedentary occupations have increased by more than 10% in Western countries over the last two decades, and the yearly global cost of physical inactivity has been estimated to be $53.8 billion. As workers tend to move less in the workplace, they are more likely to develop a sedentarism-related chronic condition and to be absent from work due to illness, although research evidence on the issue remains unclear.

AIMS: To investigate associations between physical activity (PA) and sickness absenteeism in the workplace among Spanish university workers.

METHODS: We conducted cross-sectional research with data from 1025 workers aged 18-65 years (43% women) from a Spanish university. Physical Activity Vital Sign (PAVS) and International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) short versions were used to evaluate levels of PA. Workplace absenteeism was self-reported by participants. Written questionnaires distributed during medical checks included PAVS, IPAQ and the question about absenteeism among other information. The association between PA and sickness absenteeism was examined using adjusted multiple linear regression.

RESULTS: After adjusting for age, sex, job function, chronic conditions, sedentarism and smoking, each weekly hour of PA reduced sickness absence by -1.20 (95% confidence interval: -2.40-0.00) days per year.

CONCLUSIONS: The implementation of PA promotion strategies aimed at university employees may lead to a reduction of days off work due to illness.


López-Bueno R, Smith L, Andersen LL, López-Sánchez GF, Casajús JA. Association between physical activity and sickness absenteeism in university workers. Occupational Medicine 2019;70(1):24-30.
doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqz158

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