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.