Associations among workplace environment, self-regulation, and domain-specific physical activities among white-collar workers: a multilevel longitudinal study

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2018 May 31;15(1):47. doi: 10.1186/s12966-018-0681-5.


Background: Psychological and environmental determinants have been discussed for promoting physical activity among workers. However, few studies have investigated effects of both workplace environment and psychological determinants on physical activity. It is also unknown which domains of physical activities are promoted by these determinants. This study aimed to investigate main and interaction effects of workplace environment and individual self-regulation for physical activity on domain-specific physical activities among white-collar workers.

Methods: A multi-site longitudinal study was conducted at baseline and about 5-month follow-up. A total of 49 worksites and employees within the worksites were recruited. Inclusion criteria for the worksites (a) were located in the Kanto area, Japan and (b) employed two or more employees. Employee inclusion criteria were (a) employed by the worksites, (b) aged 18 years or older, and (c) white-collar workers. For outcomes, three domain-specific physical activities (occupational, transport-related, and leisure-time) at baseline and follow-up were measured. For independent variables, self-regulation for physical activity, workplace environments (parking/bike, signs/bulletin boards/advertisements, stairs/elevators, physical activity/fitness facilities, work rules, written policies, and health promotion programs), and covariates at baseline were measured. Hierarchical Linear Modeling was conducted to investigate multilevel associations.

Results: Of the recruited worksites, 23 worksites and 562 employees, and 22 worksites and 459 employees completed the baseline and the follow-up surveys. As results of Hierarchical Linear Modeling, stairs/elevator (γ=3.80 [SE=1.80], p<0.05), physical activity/fitness facilities (γ=4.98 [SE=1.09], p<0.01), and written policies (γ=2.10 [SE=1.02], p<0.05) were significantly and positively associated with occupational physical activity. Self-regulation for physical activity was associated significantly with leisure-time physical activity (γ=0.09 [SE=0.04], p<0.05) but insignificantly with occupational and transport-related physical activity (γ=0.11 [SE=0.16] and γ=-0.00 [SE=0.06]). Significant interaction effects of workplace environments (physical activity/fitness facilities, work rules, and written policies) and self-regulation were observed on transport-related and leisure-time physical activity.

Conclusions: Workplace environments such as physical activity/fitness facilities, written policies, work rules, and signs for stair use at stairs and elevators; self-regulation for physical activity; and their interactions may be effective to promote three domain-specific physical activities. This study has practical implications for designing multi-component interventions that include both environmental and psychological approaches to increase effect sizes to promote overall physical activity.

Keywords: Multilevel study; Physical activity; Workplace environment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Occupations*
  • Self-Control / psychology*
  • Workplace / psychology*
  • Workplace / statistics & numerical data