Cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with sickness absence and work ability

P. Kolu, J. Raitanen, H. Sievänen, K. Tokola, H. Vähä-Ypyä, E. Nieminen, T. Vasankari

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BACKGROUND: Physical activity may sustain the physical aspect of work ability despite health problems such as musculoskeletal disorders and anxiety, which are the most prevalent work-related health problem in Europe. AIMS: To evaluate the association of Finnish municipal workers' accelerometer-measured physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness with their sickness absence levels, perceived work ability and health-related quality of life. METHODS: In connection with a randomized controlled trial recruiting 185 municipal workers, the authors performed baseline data analysis utilizing quantile regression to examine relationships between the outcome variables (all-cause sickness absence for 6 months, perceived work ability and health-related quality of life) and cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular fitness, and physical activity, and sedentary behaviour. All results were adjusted for age, sex and education level. RESULTS: The median duration of all-cause sickness absence over the preceding 6 months was lowest among participants with high cardiorespiratory fitness relative to the lowest tertile (2.0 versus 6.0 days; P < 0.05), and the highest perceived work ability was found among those with high or moderate cardiorespiratory fitness as compared to the lowest tertile (8.0 versus 7.0; P < 0.001). Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity correlated positively with the physical component of health-related quality of life (P < 0.01) and with a high cardiorespiratory-fitness level (P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: High cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with decreased all-cause sickness absence days and improved work ability among municipal workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-485
Number of pages8
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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