Leisure time physical activity and sickness absenteeism; a prospective study

Occup Med (Lond). 2006 May;56(3):210-2. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqj026.


Aim: To establish whether workers with frequent leisure time physical activities are at higher or lower risk of sickness absence compared to inactive workers.

Method: Self reported and company recorded sickness absence data were collected during 18 months of follow-up for 8902 workers. Frequency of leisure time physical activities was queried at baseline.

Results: Overall, we found that workers active in their leisure time twice or more each week reported significantly less sickness absence compared to inactive workers (14.8 versus 19.5 days/year), mainly due to a decrease in sick leave because of musculoskeletal disorders.

Conclusion: Demotivating sports participation by making workers liable for workdays lost due to sporting injuries might be counter-productive in decreasing absenteeism and its related costs. Promoting worker participation in sport might lead to reduced absenteeism.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Occupational Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data*