Study shows men who engage in physical activity at work likely to die early

Men who engage in physical activity on the job are more likely to die earlier‚ research says.
Men who engage in physical activity on the job are more likely to die earlier‚ research says.
Image: 123RF/Alexandre Zveiger

Men who engage in physical activity on the job are more likely to die earlier‚ research by a Australian university has found.

The findings were published in the British Journal for Medicine on Tuesday suggested that men had an 18% increased risked of early death compared with others who had lower levels of physical activity on the job.

“We know the importance of physical activity in leisure time for the prevention of non-communicable diseases has been well documented‚ but this research shows there may be an increased risk of early death from working in a physically active job among men‚” said Professor Leon Straker‚ from the School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science at Curtin University.

Straker and Australian author John Curtin co-authored the research.

They used 193‚696 participants globally for the research to study the relationship between occupational physical activity and mortality.

“This study shows that men who took part in a high level of occupational physical activity had an 18% higher risk of early death compared to those who only reported a low level of physical activity in the workplace. However‚ the opposite pattern was observed for women with female workers who took part in a higher level of physical activity in the workplace experiencing a decreased risk of early death compared to those who worked in physically less active jobs‚” Straker said.

“This is the first study to systemically review and find evidence consistent with the physical activity paradox‚ a principle that suggests beneficial health outcomes linked with leisure-time physical activity but detrimental health outcomes for those engaging in a high level of occupational physical activity.”

The findings have prompted Straker to suggest that the international guideline of 30 minutes of daily exercise be revised.

“International guidelines encourage people to engage in 30 minutes of at least moderate intensity physical activity daily‚ but these guidelines do not distinguish between occupational‚ leisure time and transportation related physical activity‚” he said.

“This research shows the physical activity guidelines may need to differentiate between the different types of physical activity because it indicates a higher risk of early death for men who work in physically active jobs.”

The research contains contributions from various universities around the world including the University of Cape Town.

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