activity of office workers

Biol. Sport 2010;27:289-296


AUTHORS: Biernat E.1, Tomaszewski P.2, Milde K.2

for publication

Reprint request to:
Elżbieta Biernat,
SGH, Al. Niepodległości 162,
02-554 Warszawa, CWFiS.
e-mail: elzbieta.biernat@sgh.waw.pl
Phone: +48 22 6653839

Warsaw School of Economics, Warsaw, Poland
Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education, Warsaw, Poland

ABSTRACT: Inactivity or insufficient physical activity is risk factor for metabolic or cardiovascular diseases.
In most of cases the nature of work of office employees does not require high physical efforts and consists
mostly of sitting but the reports on leisure activity of office workers are still lacking. Thus, the aim of the study
was to assess physical activity of civil and local administration workers and bank officials. 293 randomly selected
office workers took part in the study. They were recruited from employees of local (n=97) or civil (n=119)
administration authorities or banks (n=77) and subjected to interviews with the use of IPAQ questionnaire (short
version). Low physical activity was noted in about 70% of local administration employees, in almost 50% of
bank officials and about 35% of workers employed in civil administration. Total daily time spent on sitting was
on average 9.7±1.7 hour/day irrespectively of gender or group studied. Very low level of physical activity of
Polish office workers may be a result of improper habits of spending spare time, low awareness of beneficial
effects of physical activity and still insufficient promotion of healthy/active lifestyle in East-European countries.
KEY WORDS: physical activity level, IPAQ, officials, Poland

Rapid progress of civilization almost completely deprives of

rapidly than in preceding generations and the symptoms of civilization

the opportunity to movement and physical effort. It eliminates from

diseases manifest earlier [13,20,22,25,30,31]. Because of specificity

the everyday work all these forms based on physical activity and

of work performed, office workers are especially exposed to a risk of

simple physical effort, leaving mainly monotonous activities that

occurrence of such diseases [25] and that raises a problem of

unevenly load the individual parts and systems of the human body.

constructing programmed, intentional physical activity for this group

This phenomenon pertains mainly to the office workers e.g. bank

of employees.

officials or people employed in civil/local administration. Depending

Preventive medicine, often helpless to well-known civilization

on position occupied they perform simple physical activity or supervise

diseases and especially to new health risks, calls for appreciation of

various technical devices (computers, photocopiers, mobile phones

importance of health prevention and health promotion [13,23,25,32].

etc.). Progressing miniaturization of these devices requires quicker

It is thus justified to quantitatively assess not only total but as

and more precise movements that activate rather nervous than motoric

well everyday - low, moderate and vigorous habitual physical activity

processes. Additionally, development of computer and audiovisual

that will allow for an unbiased and relative appraisal of importance

technologies makes the everyday actions more intense by shortening

of these independent variables in health promotion and will help in

their duration and containing more in one time. Consequences of

constructing appropriate programs of physical activity.

these processes may result not only in sedentary life or increasing

It is commonly believed that nature of work of office employees

body size but as well in occurrence civilization diseases that more

does not require high physical efforts but there are still only

frequently appear at the earlier stages of life [28]. However progress

suppositions about it since few data exist supporting that view.

in medical sciences made the average lifespan longer, there are some

The are virtually no comprehensive studies pertaining to physical

evidences that processes of growing old begin earlier, develop more

activity of office workers in particular, most of research conducted









Sport, Vol. 27 No4, 2010


290 3 are considered inactive.0 Female 28 19 39. for about 20 employees from each of previously selected 1500 MET•min/week. 293 randomly selected office workers took part in Calculation of physical activity level. Department of Construction.7±2.0±9. reading. Weekly physical activity was the study. the total time spent weekly on sitting was recorded.3±9.Those individuals who not meet criteria for categories 2 or or fast bicycling. The aim of the study was etc. All questions were asked of every person irrespectively MATERIALS AND METHODS of whether that person considered him/herself physically active or not. watching tv.5±3.meeting any one of the two following criteria selected from all Warsaw’s institution of given sector.0* Total 105 14 34. moderate and sitting. subjects were classified into three physical activity Politics.3 Male 41 4 35. or walking activities. - - institution were randomly qualified for the study participation. Randomization procedure consisted of two stages: in the first stage respectively [33]. Sitting time was recorded only on weekdays and activity of Belarusian officials [24] it is justified to assess level of pertained to time spent in sitting position at home.5±8.meeting any one of the three following criteria: Questionnaire (IPAQ) edited by us and officially approved by the IPAQ . The questionnaire consists of 7 questions pertaining to all kinds of .5±4.3 24.7*# 24.Three or more days with vigorous activities lasting at least Committee as a national (Polish) version [33] was used in the study.Five or more days with a combination of walking.8±4. in addition.Seven or more days with any combination of vigorous. office.0±3. Committee of Financial Supervision.0 † BMI was calculated on a basis of declared body height and body mass * .0±3.9 23. 20 min each time. car. reduction of job-related include carrying light loads. Within the last 7 days only those activities were recorded which thus to assess physical activity of civil and local administration workers lasted at least 10 min without significant breaks. musculoskeletal diseases [7] or their working ability and well-being Walking pertained to fulfillment of office duties.significantly (p<0. They were recruited from employees of local (n=97) or computed by multiplying time (minutes of given activity in the reported civil (n=119) administration authorities or banks (n=77).3±8.05) different from respective category in civil administration on office employees were focused on determining energy expenditure heart beating somewhat harder and faster than normal and may in subjects with identified health risks [8.3±8.1±9.5 Total 75 22 41. on walking least 30 min each time. risk of occurrence of civilization diseases. exceeding 600 MET•min/week faster than normal and may include heavy lifting. Polish version of short International Physical Activity 2. 4 or 3. 8.significantly (p<0. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GROUPS STUDIED Education Group Gender Higher Secondary n Local administration Civil administration Bank officials 4 Age BMI † (mean ± SD) (mean ± SD) 42. moderate The refusal rate was relatively low and varied between 3 . Vigorous activities mean breathing much harder and activities or vigorous activities. totalling at least 3000 MET•min/week Method.18]. Subjects.3 Total 52 25 38.0±8.4 Female 64 10 34. In the context of alarming reports concerning low physical shopping etc. [21.9±3. aerobics.3 Male 27 Female 48 18 41.4±9. getting to work.Three or more days with vigorous activities totalling at least stage. detailed week) by intensity (in MET units) corresponding to that activity: characteristics of groups studied was presented in Table 1.9 22. during visiting friends.6 25. et al.7 24. Civil Aviation) or local categories: (Municipal Councils of 5 Warsaw’s districts) administration were 1. bicycling at a regular pace. 3. recommendations the questionnaire was applied to subjects aged 15 – 69 years. and 5 institutions of civil (Department of Regional Development.05) different from respective category in local administration # .8 28.4±4.1 25. According to IPAQ and bank officials employed in Polish institutions of public utility. Moderate . everyday life and leisure and especially to the time spent on vigorous and moderate activities. digging.  High . .6 25.Five or more days with moderate activities or walking lasting at - - physical activity related to job.Biernat E.8* Male 24 6 36. Department of Work and Domestic Basing on these. In the second . . Moderate physical activities mean breathing and - . Raiffeisen Bank. Low . in means physical activity of Polish office workers and its possible effect on of public transport. The total weekly activity was obtained by totalling 3 banks (Polish National Bank.6±3. moderate and walking activities.5%. or fast walk.3 MET for vigorous. TABLE 1.2±9. ING Silesia Bank) those three kinds of activities and expressed in MET•min/week.27].

TABLE 2.1 min/day. Moderate activities were mostly practised by presence.1 40 51. differences between mean values were workers. the management was obtained for carrying out an interview.5 24 20.05. *** p<0.001 # – significantly different from civil administration: # p<0. interviewers had to fill in 10 trial gender differences were found in case of moderate activities. Standard statistic procedures: means. workers of civil administration significantly the Newman-Keulus test (post-hoc). Pearson’s correlation coefficient more frequently declared devoting more than 180 minutes to was used to assess relationships between the variables studied.2±2. administration employees.001) Data analysis. Table 3). 27 No4. In every selected institution a written consent of performance were presented in Tables 2-4. The declared percentages pertaining to than those recorded in employees of local and civil administration.0%. time devoted to practising activities. standard administration employees. Chi-square than 60 minutes a week were significantly less frequently declared function in logarithmic form [29] was used to assess differences by civil administration employees than by bank or local administration between the frequencies. may be regarded as habitual. Activities questionnaires on any persons. Additionally.8% of civil administration employees (p<0. Vol. Table 2). As compared to other conditions since average monthly temperature and rainfall of both groups.6%) administration.8 1 1. ** p<0. respectively.5%.01 Biology of Sport.2 28 36. Recommended study period was favourable for Polish intense activities was differentiated as well. subjected to one-day training course.4**# 3-6 days/week 2 2.001).3±1.9***## 1-2 days/week 16 16.01.9 min/day for bank and local professional agencies and despite experience possessed. the percentages being 73. a given kind of activity.05 being considered significant. mean values spent on vigorous activities Interviewers’ training.3 < 60 min 9 50.0 21 65. 66. At the end of the training course interviewers entered even less than 10% of bank officials declared practising no such an exam consisting of carrying out an interview in instructor’s activities (p<0. no between- purpose and study protocol.1%) than by employees of while self-completing the questionnaire [5]. workers (cf.8**## > 180 min - - - - - - - - - Frequency n None - * – significantly different from local administration: * p<0.1 7 5. were recruited from being 5. Irrespectively regulations. because of increased activity It was also found that bank officials devoted significantly less usually noted during All Saint’s Day and Halloween the whole week (p<0.2%.6 and 10.4 4 10.8±3. the research were conducted only in March and September of group studied those activities were most frequently practised 1-2 (2006) that are considered not to affect habits related to motor days a week (cf.4* 7 days/week - - 1 0. 2010 291 .0 11 34.2%).01) time during ordinary day to intense activities than local was excluded from the survey.1±2. bank officials declared significantly more frequently (for about months is comparable. additionally administration employees respectively. Reliability of collected data was classified as moderate were not undertaken at all by nearly 50% of analysed and discussed by survey’s board members with every local and by 32.2%. its frequency and time spent weekly on its the values being 12. DECLARED FREQUENCIES AND TIME SPENT WEEKLY ON PRACTICING VIGOROUS ACTIVITIES BY OFFICE WORKERS STUDIED Local administration Civil administration Bank officials (n=97) (n=119) (n=77) - Variable Weekly time % n % n % 79 81. The moderate activities performed less deviations or percentages were used in data description.001) and local (7. Since the between-gender. p<0.9%) or local (18.8±1. Additionally. ## p<0.4 87 73. Practising vigorous activities was significantly more Polish respondents tended to overestimate the level of physical activity frequently declared by bank officials (48. p<0. After being informed about the Moderate physical activity.2 min/day and was significantly shorter Vigorous physical activity. practising moderate activities compared to other groups of office the level of p<0. frequently than in civil (21.6 33 89. only those who positively passed the exam were enrolled bank officials for 3-6 days a week (44. in total 8.2**## > 60 min 9 50. significantly more into study.0 and 19. Interviewers. determined by applying two-way ANOVA (sex×group) followed by respectively. According to IPAQ either civil (26. The average time devoted daily to moderate activities in bank RESULTS officials amounted to 8. However.Physical activity of office workers Data collection.05. Likewise for vigorous activity. Subjects within-group differences were insignificant common percentages were were interviewed by an experienced interviewer as it was shown that calculated. interviewer.9 8 10.05). feast or vacation) hence recorded physical activity a week. Additionally it is not a period of increased 40%) practising vigorous activities lasting less than 60 minutes activity (holiday.2% and 41.

** p<0.8 1-2 days/week 36 37. respondents from two other groups Sitting. High *** 50 declared significantly (p<0. Declarations pertaining to number of classified into the categories of low.2 *** 47 66.4### > 60 min 9 18.2# * 23 32.5% of office workers employed in local administration spent less than 60 minutes on walking during the last week.1 min/day) and office ** # *** *** # 0 workers employed in local administration only 4±2.001 TABLE 4. percentages of subjects 40 declaring walking over 240 minutes a week were relatively lower.5*** 19 24.8 46 38.8***### 33 42. DECLARED FREQUENCIES AND TIME SPENT WEEKLY ON PRACTICING MODERATE ACTIVITIES BY OFFICE WORKERS STUDIED Local administration Variable (n=97) n Frequency * # Bank officials (n=119) % n (n=77) % * None 48 49. ### p<0. *** p<0.001 #– significantly (p<0.2***### 4 5.001).7±1.01.7* > 60 min 40 47.3%).001 – significantly different from civil administration: # p<0.3 23 29. ### p<0.9 * n % - -*** 6 7.001) more frequently spending from differences in total daily time spent on sitting.2 25 21. PERCENTAGES OF LOCAL (N = 97) AND CIVIL (N = 119) ADMINISTRATION EMPLOYEES AND BANKERS (N = 77) CLASSIFIED INTO THE STANDARD CATEGORIES OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY * – significantly different from local administration: ** p<0. As much as 40.8*** 62. local administration employees.1 41 34.6 67 74. Walking was declared by all bank officials studied.01.Biernat E.0 > 180 min 4 8.2 14 11.8* – significantly different from local administration: * p<0.5% respectively.05.4 28 35. DECLARED FREQUENCIES AND TIME SPENT WEEKLY ON WALKING BY OFFICE WORKERS STUDIED Local administration Variable (n=97) - None - Frequency * - # (n=77) % n % 13 13.05) different from civil administration TABLE 3.5 33 41. Walking.1 3-6 days/week 26 26. *** p<0.7 min/ 10 day while bankers about half this time (16±3.05.4 1 1. As compared (p<0.4 7 5. while in bankers walking performed 3-6 days a week predominated (62.2 19 23.9 48 40.4*** 56 72. the mean value was Moderate 60 to local administration employees.9 < 60 min 34 40.7% and 14.9 18 15.05.5 13 14. while in bankers and civil 80 administration employees the percentages were significantly (p<0. The percentages of subject were slightly lower (Table 4).6*# – significantly different from local administration: * p<0.7 hour/day irrespectively of gender or group studied.001 – significantly different from civil administration: # p<0. *** p<0. ** p<0. 1.7*** > 180 min 10 11.01. % Local Civil Bankers FIG.8 < 60 min Weekly time Civil administration 36 73. et al.1 2 2.0 7 days/week 6 6.9 10 11.3***### 1-2 days/week 28 28.5 39 32.7 48 7 days/week 30 30.2 n % 6 7.05. moderate or high physical activity days containing walking were distributed almost evenly in group of were presented in Figure 1. The results of the two-way ANOVA revealed no significant Low 70 lower and amounted to 24. 30 This results were confirmed by the time spent on walking: civil 20 administration employees declared walking on average 31±4.5 ** 3-6 days/week 7 7. In each of the group studied no significant the percentages observed in local and civil administration employees between-gender differences were observed.001 292 Bank officials (n=119) n - - Weekly time Civil administration .9 34 44.05) 60 to 240 minutes a week on walking. Level of physical activity.3 min/day 9.

Vol.lowest level of physical activity. The frequency of obese subjects administration employees. The exception is Amish studied.345. d . not meeting any one of previous conditions. in each of the group studied positive correlations employees (42 and 6%. (p<0.7%. r=0. Local by BMI.7 hours a day) and was higher from those reported for for bankers. PERCENTAGES OF LOCAL (N=97) OR CIVIL (N=119) ADMINISTRATION EMPLOYEES AND BANKERS (N=77) CLASSIFIED INTO THREE LEVELS OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY Level of physical activity Group Gender - Local administration - Civil administration Total (n=293) Moderate Low a b c d e f Male (n=31) - - 6 - 29 65 Female (n=66) - 6 6 3 11 74 Male (n=45) 7 4 2 4 56 27 Female (n=74) 1 4 - 8 50 36 Male (n=30) - - 10 3 37 50 Female (n=47) - - 6 - 47 47 1 3 4 4 38 49 Legend: a . the most frequently practised activities were relatively low population in which problem of overweight and obesity virtually exacting efforts (regarded as moderate activity) consisting of five or does not exist [2]. BMI correlated negatively with physical activity expressed sitting position amounted to 6. however none DISCUSSION of the bank officials has been classified as having high level of physical The study was conducted among Warsaw’s office workers. civil or local administration employees respectively. namely bank employees having spent more time in sitting position Despite relatively low correlation coefficients. moderate walking As it was mentioned. As compared to two other groups. exceeding 600 MET•min/week. the highest values of BMI were observed activities with total activity exceeding 600 MET min/week. activity. administration employees and bank officials had normal body mass significantly (p<0. more days with any combination of vigorous. p<0. in local administration employees and this group of office workers Body mass index (BMI) vs. Moderate physical activity predominated in civil administration employees of banks and local or civil administration. the overweight being present In contrast to data presented by Ainswort et al [1] in this study no in each group at approximately the same level (about 30%). workers of local administration (26%). As determined was also characterized by the lowest levels of physical activity. except for men employed into categories of high.9 hours a day [10]. In every group obese and 51% as overweight [15]. sitting is not surprising.Three or more days with vigorous activities lasting at least 20 min each time. totalling at least 3000 MET•min/week. in each group studied and exhibiting lower levels of physical activity had higher values of significant correlations were found between age and BMI.375 and r=0. moderate or low activity was presented in in local administration where obesity was present in 42% of Table 5. However.Five or more days with a combination of walking. none of the bankers Canadian population where 15% of adults was regarded as being or local administration workers met this conditions. of long-standing traditions of healthy living and health promotion in none of the groups studied significant correlations were found for widely spread in Scandinavian countries the relatively low time of BMI and time spent on sitting. e . It was also found that BMI civil administration or banks the respective frequencies were decidedly correlated to some extend with some components of physical activity. The average time of sitting was almost the same in each group the respective coefficients being r=0. Taking into consideration qualification criteria to particular subjects. - - - Bank officials High Biology of Sport.05) but in bank officials only (r=-0. The results employees (51.9%) while in local administration percentages for this concerning weight-height relations show that about 40% of civil category amounted only to 24. 27 No4. Swedish population aged 20–69 years where the time spent in Additionally. 2010 293 .Three or more days with vigorous activities totalling at least 1500 MET•min/week. TABLE 5. BMI. Detailed data concerning classification was relatively low and not exceeded 10%.Physical activity of office workers High activity was noted only for 4% of respondents. respectively. The percentages found in this study are decidedly lower levels of physical activity it was stated that only 8% of civil than those reported for Americans where obesity was found to be administration employees performed three or more days with vigorous present in 31% and overweight in 65% of adults [11] and for activities. moderate activities or vigorous activities.Five or more days with moderate activities or walking lasting at least 30 min each time.489 studied (9.Seven or more days with any combination of vigorous. totalling at least 1500 MET min/week. c . In the context in MET min/week (p<0. f . b .658).01) higher percentage of subjects classified as classified by BMI and 30% of all subjects studied had elevated exhibiting low level of physical activity was noted for local BMI considered as overweight. Obesity correlation was found between education and BMI or level of physical was more frequently found in male than in female local administration activity. civil administration employees (42%) and bank officials administration workers were also older by about 7 and 3.001) while in workers of were found between age and BMI. age and physical activity. moderate or walking activities.5 years (43%) had significantly more frequently normal body mass than from civil administration employees and bankers respectively.001) lower for both genders and varied between 0 and 9%.

The results presented in this study and even more frequently and pertained to 83% of workers aged up to other reports concerning activity of office workers are not optimistic. 5or more days a week. frequently and more frequently than other groups performed it Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . median=4444) was higher than during last week and less frequently practised it 3-6 days a week. The highest percentage of subjects as having high level of physical activity. declared practising moderate activities most (2514 MET min/week). the percentages being 28 and 17% were significantly less frequently practised by local administration for males and females respectively [4]. It is surprisingly high percentage. still insufficient promotion increase maximum O2 uptake and that in turn may decrease of healthy/active lifestyle or simply lack of time that could be the risk of heart diseases [16] or mortality [6]. Intense activities Warsaw School of Economics. 69% occasionally and in 17% of employees aged up to 39 years. Results of this study show that 49% of by Ekelund et al. et al. [26] who claims that along with obesity the sedentary of them declared practicing moderate or vigorous activities lasting nature of work is increasing mostly because of the common use of at least 30 min a day. Relatively lower percentages were observed in teachers of study shows that 86% of Polish office workers performed no intense Warsaw’s University of Physical Education where almost 40% of activities at all. Finally. These findings are to some of regularity. Low level of physical activity was noted in about 70% of local as irregularly active i.e. In above-mentioned study performing vigorous activities was observed in bankers (46%).4±957. The results of Californian study [14] show that 24. only on average 4% of office workers studied were classified those activities 3-6 days a week. tendencies were also noted in case of moderate activities. [9].1 min/day) and office workers meet these criteria. In complete opposition to these findings are levels of physical activity. [10] for Swedish males (12. be regarded as satisfactory. Although relatively high employees (18%) as compared to other groups studied. of University teachers. subjects classified as having low level of physical activity may be As demonstrated by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a result of improper habits of spending spare time. The prevalence of 14% of them avoid any physical activity. practicing vigorous activities of beneficial effects of physical activity. It was also shown devoted to leisure activities. these results cannot somewhat lower than obtained for females (20.6 min/day in males and moderate physical activities per week or performing such activities 13. since 80% of them declared workers [24] in which low levels of physical activity were noted practicing no activity at all. at least 5 days a week) and 37% meeting those regarded Summing up.American College 3-6 days a week. However. 16% were classified desktop computers and as it was shown that obese subjects have 294 . intensity recorded among residents of 12 European countries Bank officials in turn. Average time spent on moderate activities of Sports Medicine recommends for keeping health 150 min of recorded in this study amounted to 13. average intensity of efforts observed in this category employees least frequently declared performing moderate activities (4327.- - - - - Biernat E. very low level of physical activity was noted workers perform physical activity regularly. The results of presented workers. Additionally. activities. percentage of subjects exhibiting moderate (sufficient) physical employees of local administration declared less frequently practising activity. Similar and respectively in 53% and 63% physical education teachers. highest values of BMI were observed in office as intense activity (30 minutes a day with vigorous activities.American College of Sports Medicine. practicing moderate or intense activities administration employees in about 50% of bank officials and about lasting at least 10 min without brakes but not meeting the criterion 35% of workers of civil administration. low awareness . workers having spent more time on sitting and exhibiting lowest 2-3 days a week). It may be thus supposed that similar that training effects are most pronounced while practised with high tendencies would be present in the rest of developing countries intensity (at least 80% of VO2max) and duration lasting no less from Eastern Europe.4 min/day). high physical activity was noted in 61% but the time devoted for this kind activity was on average shorter male and in 42% female teachers from Warsaw School of Economics than declared by the local administration employees. Additionally.6 min/day in females and that indicates that recommended 22% of respondents declared meeting recommended criteria for limits of physical activity (at least 30 minutes daily) are moderate activity (30 or more minutes a day with moderate predominantly fulfilled with this kind of activity. It is thus of importance to assess structure Moderate physical activity was noted in on average 46% of office and frequency of the activity performed. overwhelming majority of Columbian women extend in accordance with results obtained for Belarusian office were classified as completely inactive.5 min/day in males and recommendations. as Despite of such low percentage of subjects exhibiting high physical compared to other groups of office workers local administration activity level.9 min/day in females and was comparable to those reported at least 30 min a day [9]. This is partly in line with the stand of results of study performed among Columbian women [12] only 5% Saris et al. especially when compared to results Walking was most frequently declared and performed more than obtained for Swedes [10] or Norwegians aged 30-39 years [3] 240 min/week by bank officials. than 30 minutes [17]. Average time of walking recorded among who 75% and 57% respectively meet ACSM for all groups studied was 20. 39 years and increased to almost 100% in subjects aged 50 years As reported by Rafikova [24] only 17% of public administration or more. since almost half male and 23% of female teachers were classified as exhibiting of that amount of Swedes (47% of females and 40% of males) moderate physical activity and decidedly lower for teachers of declared practising no vigorous activities [10].3 MET min/week.

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