How do different occupational factors influence total, occupational, and leisure-time physical activity?

J Phys Act Health. 2015 Feb;12(2):200-7. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2013-0098. Epub 2014 Feb 5.


Background: A better understanding of how occupational indicators influence physical activity levels will aid the design of workplace interventions.

Methods: Cross-sectional data were collected from 1194 participants through a telephone interview in Queensland, Australia. The IPAQ-long was used to measure physical activity. Multiple logistic regression was applied to examine associations.

Results: Of participants, 77.9% were employed full-time, 32.3% had professional jobs, 35.7% were engaged in shift work, 39.5% had physically-demanding jobs, and 66.1% had high physical activity levels. Participants with a physically-demanding job were less likely to have low total (OR = 0.25, 95% CI = 0.17 to 0.38) and occupational (OR = 0.17, 95% CI = 0.12 to 0.25) physical activity. Technical and trade workers were less likely to report low total physical activity (OR = 0.44, 95% CI = 0.20 to 0.97) compared with white-collar workers. Part-time (OR = 1.74, 95% CI = 1.15 to 2.64) and shift workers (OR = 1.86, 95% CI = 1.21 to 2.88) were more likely to report low leisure-time activity.

Conclusions: Overall, the impact of different occupational indicators on physical activity was not strong. As expected, the greatest proportion of total physical activity was derived from occupational physical activity. No evidence was found for compensation effects whereby physically-demanding occupations lead to less leisure-time physical activity or vice versa. This study demonstrates that workplaces are important settings to intervene, and that there is scope to increase leisure-time physical activity irrespective of occupational background.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Occupations*
  • Queensland