Potential of micro-exercise to prevent long-term sickness absence in the general working population: prospective cohort study with register follow-up

Lars L. Andersen, Sebastian V. Skovlund, Jonas Vinstrup, Niels Geisle, Stig I. Sørensen, Sannie V. Thorsen, Emil Sundstrup

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Abstract

This study assesses the potential of workplace-based micro-exercise (brief and simple exercise bouts) to prevent long-term sickness absence (LTSA) at the population level. In the Work Environment and Health in Denmark Study (2012-2018), we followed 70,130 workers from the general working population, without prior LTSA, for two years in the Danish Register for Evaluation of Marginalisation. We used Cox regression with model-assisted weights and controlled for various confounders. From 2012 to 2018, the percentage of workers in Denmark using workplace-based micro-exercise during and outside of working hours increased from 7.1 to 10.9% and from 0.8 to 1.4%, respectively. The incidence of long-term sickness absence (at least 30 days) was 8.4% during follow-up. The fully adjusted model showed reduced risk of long-term sickness absence from using micro-exercise during working hours, (HR 0.86, 95% CI 0.77-0.96), but not when used outside of working hours. If used by all workers, micro-exercise during working hours could potentially prevent 12.8% of incident long-term sickness absence cases (population attributable fraction). In conclusion, micro-exercise performed during working hours holds certain potential to prevent incident long-term sickness absence in the general working population. Large-scale implementation of workplace-based micro-exercise may represent an unexploited opportunity for public health promotion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2280
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
ISSN2045-2322
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10. Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Absenteeism
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Denmark/epidemiology
  • Exercise/physiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases/prevention & control
  • Occupational Health
  • Prospective Studies
  • Registries
  • Sick Leave/statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors
  • Workplace
  • Young Adult

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