A physically active occupation does not result in compensatory inactivity during out-of-work hours

Prev Med. Jul-Aug 2011;53(1-2):48-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.04.018. Epub 2011 May 5.


Aim: To examine differences in non-occupational physical activity behaviour in workers who engage in high and low occupational physical activity.

Design: Cross-sectional survey of 112 otherwise comparable volunteers in active (56 walking postal delivery workers) or inactive (56 administrative postal workers) occupations in Glasgow (Scotland) in 2007.

Methods: Twenty four-hour physical activity (steps and time standing, walking and sedentary) patterns were measured using activPAL™ for seven days. Comparisons were made during 8-hour work-shifts, during non-work hours on work-days and during the 2 non-work days.

Results: Age and body mass index of delivery and office staff, respectively, were (means (SD)) 38 (9) years versus 40 (7) years and 26.3 (3) kg m(-2) versus 27.4 (4) kg m(-2). Delivery staff spent substantially longer time than office staff upright (6.0 (1.1) h versus 3.9 (1.5) h) and walking (3.1 (0.7) h versus 1.6 (0.7) h) and amassed more steps (16,035 (4264) versus 6709 (2808)) during 8-hour work-shifts and over 24h on work days. During non-work hours of work-days and during non-work days, there were no significant differences in physical activity between the groups. The results were unchanged when the 15 women were excluded.

Conclusion: Having a more active occupation is not associated with more inactivity during non-work hours.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Occupations* / classification
  • Recreation
  • Scotland
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data*