Associations of working from home with occupational physical activity and sedentary behavior under the COVID-19 pandemic

J Occup Health. 2021 Jan;63(1):e12212. doi: 10.1002/1348-9585.12212.


Objectives: To compare physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB) levels during work time between those who work from home (WFH) and at workplaces (no WFH), and by WFH subgroups.

Methods: This cross-sectional internet-based survey included 1239 workers (mean age [standard deviation], 44.7 [13.7] years; 59.2% men) living in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. Time spent sitting (SB), standing (light-intensity PA; LPA), walking, and engaging in heavy labor (moderate-to-vigorous PA; MVPA) during work time was measured using the Work-related Physical Activity Questionnaire. Workers reported weekly WFH percentages (eg, 0% implies no WFH and 100% implies full WFH), and WFH percentages were categorized into no WFH (0% WFH) and WFH (1%-100% WFH) groups. The WFH group was further subcategorized into 1%-25%, 26%-50%, 51%-75%, and 76%-100% subgroups.

Results: Overall, 494 workers (39.9%) worked from home. During working hours, SB time was longer in the WFH group than in the no WFH group (mean minutes [% working-time SB]: 335.7 vs 224.7 min [74% vs 50%]). Significantly shorter LPA and MVPA times (%) were reported in the WFH group than in the no WFH group (LPA, 59.6 vs 122.9 min [14% vs 29%]; MVPA, 55.3 vs 91.9 min [13% vs 22%], all P < .001). Among the WFH subgroups, longer SB time and shorter LPA and MVPA times were observed in the highest WFH group (WFH 76%-100%) than in the WFH 1%-25% and 26%-50% subgroups.

Conclusions: Workers who telecommuted were less physically active and had longer sedentary during work time than those who worked at the workplaces.

Keywords: COVID-19; physical activity; sedentary behavior; telework.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teleworking*
  • Tokyo
  • Workplace*