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Journal Article


White RL, Bennie J, Abbott G, Teychenne M. BMC Public Health 2020; 20(1): e1007.


(Copyright © 2020, Holtzbrinck Springer Nature Publishing Group - BMC)






BACKGROUND: Recent evidence suggests that work-related physical activity may not have the same mental health benefits as leisure-time physical activity. Further, work-related physical activity is likely to include a variety of different behaviours for people with different occupations. As such, the aim of this study was to determine if occupation type moderated the association between work-related physical activity and psychological distress.

METHODS: A randomly selected sample of 1080 women from Melbourne, Australia completed the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-30), and reported their current occupation.

RESULTS: Linear regression analyses indicated that occupation significantly moderated the association between work-related walking and psychological distress (F [8, 55] = 2.26, p = .036). Given evidence of moderation, we fitted linear regression models to test the associations between work-related physical activity and psychological distress for three separate groups; professionals, sales and services workers, and tradespersons. Female tradespersons who engaged in a low (B = - 3.81, p = .006) or high amount of work-related walking (B = - 3.23, p = .029), had significantly lower psychological distress symptoms than those who engaged in no work-related walking. There were no significant associations between work-related physical activity of any intensity and psychological distress for professionals, or sales and service workers.

CONCLUSIONS: Given the relationship does not exist across all occupations, work-related physical activity should not be promoted above and beyond leisure-time physical activity. However, walking at work may be important in reducing psychological distress for some people and should therefore, not be discounted.

Language: en


Physical activity; Exercise; Mental health; Psychological distress; Work; Occupations; Tradesperson


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