Health-related effects of worksite interventions involving physical exercise and reduced workhours

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2008 Jun;34(3):179-88. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.1227.


Objectives: This study examined the health-related effects of two worksite interventions, physical exercise and reduced workhours, on women employed in dentistry.

Methods: Six workplaces were randomized to one of the following three conditions: (i) 2.5 hours of weekly, mandatory physical exercise of middle-to-high intensity to be performed during workhours (N=62), (ii) a reduction of full-time weekly workhours from 40 to 37.5 hours (N=50), and (iii) reference. In all, 177 women participated. Biomarkers and self-ratings in questionnaires were obtained before the intervention (T (1)), and six (T (2)) and 12 months (T (3)) after the intervention.

Results: The results showed increased levels of physical activity and exercise in all of the groups, the level of physical exercise being significantly greater in the physical exercise group. Repeated-measures analyses of variance using data from T (1)and T (3)for biological measures and all three time points for self-ratings produced significant interaction effects for glucose, waist-to-hip ratio, and work ability and clear trends for general symptoms and upper-extremity disorders. Posthoc analyses showed that the results of the health-related measures differed between the interventions, decreased glucose and upper-extremity disorders in the exercise group, and increased high-density lipoprotein and waist-to-hip ratio among those working reduced hours.

Conclusions: These results show that the two interventions had small and varied effects on biomarkers and self-reports of different aspects of health among women. It is suggested that interventions involving a modest reduction in workhours seem to be more effective if these hours are used for physical exercise.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • Dentistry
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / blood
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling*
  • Public Health Dentistry / organization & administration
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work Schedule Tolerance*
  • Workforce
  • Workplace


  • Biomarkers
  • Lipoproteins, HDL