Chronic workplace stress and insufficient physical activity: a cohort study

Anne Kouvonen, Jussi Vahtera, Tuula Oksanen, Jaana Pentti, Ari K. P. Vaananen, Tarja Heponiemi, Paula Salo, Marianna Virtanen, Mika Kivimaeki

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    55 Citations (Scopus)



    To examine whether exposure to workplace stressors predicts changes in physical activity and the risk of insufficient physical activity.


     Prospective data from the Finnish Public Sector Study. Repeated exposure to low job control, high job demands, low effort, low rewards and compositions of these (job strain and effort-reward imbalance) were assessed at Time 1 (2000-2002) and Time 2 (2004). Insufficient physical activity (<14 metabolic equivalent task hours per week) was measured at Time 1 and Time 3 (2008). The effect of change in workplace stressors on change in physical activity was examined using fixed-effects (within-subject) logistic regression models (N=6665). In addition, logistic regression analysis was applied to examine the associations between repeated exposure to workplace stressors and insufficient physical activity (N=13 976). In these analyses, coworker assessed workplace stressor scores were used in addition to individual level scores.


    The proportion of participants with insufficient physical activity was 24% at baseline and 26% at follow-up. 19% of the participants who were sufficiently active at baseline became insufficiently active at follow-up. In the fixed-effect analysis, an increase in workplace stress was weakly related to an increase in physical inactivity within an individual. In between-subjects analysis, employees with repeated exposure to low job control and low rewards were more likely to be insufficiently active at follow-up than those with no reports of these stressors; fully adjusted ORs ranged from 1.11 (95% CI 1.00 to 1.24) to 1.21 (95% CI 1.05 to 1.39).


     Workplace stress is associated with a slightly increased risk of physical inactivity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3-8
    JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
    Early online date17 Dec 2012
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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