Jackson, Cath, Lewis, Kiara, Conner, Mark, Lawton, Rebecca and McEachan, Rosemary R.C. (2014) Are incremental changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviours associated with improved employee health?: A 12-month prospective study in five organisations. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 7 (1). pp. 16-39. ISSN 1753-8351

Purpose – The workplace offers an ideal setting for facilitating physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviours. Understanding employees’ current health behaviours is required to inform appropriate, tailored, health promotion interventions. The purpose of this paper is to compare the physical activity and sedentary behaviours over 12 months of employees within and across five UK organisations. The paper also explores the association of these health behaviours with objective and self-reported health outcomes; and investigates the association between physical activity and sedentary behaviours.

Design/methodology/approach – Self-reported physical activity and sedentary behaviours were recorded at four time points (baseline, three, six, 12 months). BMI, per cent body fat, waist circumference, blood pressure and resting heart rate were collected in health checks (baseline, 12 months). Well-being and health were collected via questionnaire.

Findings – Low physical activity and high sedentariness were evident. Sitting levels varied by occupational role and organisation. More activity was associated with improved health outcomes; no association was evident for sedentary behaviour. No direct effects of occupational role or organisation on health outcomes emerged after accounting for physical activity/sedentary behaviours. Physical activity and sedentary levels were weakly associated.

Practical implications – The low activity levels are of particular concern as linked to health outcomes for this sample. The weak association between behaviours suggests worksite interventions should target both behaviours.

Originality/value – This study provides insight into both the physical activity and sedentary behaviours of employees of large UK employers across different occupational sectors over 12 months; importantly it is informed by the most recent guidance for these health behaviours.

final_version_sent_IJPH-S-13-00089.pdf - Accepted Version

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