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The Association Between Work Performance and Physical Activity, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Obesity

Pronk, Nicolaas P. PhD; Martinson, Brian PhD; Kessler, Ronald C. PhD; Beck, Arne L. PhD; Simon, Gregory E. MD, MPH; Wang, Philip MD, DrPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2004 - Volume 46 - Issue 1 - p 19-25
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000105910.69449.b7

List the baseline characteristics of the nearly 700 individuals participating in this study of how modifiable lifestyle-related risk factors relate to job performance.Define whether, and in what ways, risk factor status was associated with work performance.Explain what these findings mean about choosing appropriate interventions to lessen absenteeism and improve job performance. The purpose of this study was to test the association between lifestyle-related modifiable health risks (physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and obesity) and work performance. Data were obtained from 683 workers. Dependent variables included number of work loss days, quantity and quality of work performed, overall job performance, extra effort exerted, and interpersonal relationships. Results indicated that higher levels of physical activity related to reduced decrements in quality of work performed and overall job performance; higher cardiorespiratory fitness related to reduced decrements in quantity of work performed, and a reduction in extra effort exerted to perform the work; obesity related to more difficulty in getting along with coworkers; severe obesity related to a higher number of work loss days. It is concluded that lifestyle-related modifiable health risk factors significantly impact employee work performance.

From the Center for Health Promotion, HealthPartners, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Dr. Pronk); HealthPartners Research Foundation, HealthPartners, Minneapolis, Minnesota (Drs. Pronk and Martinson); the Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (Drs. Kessler and Wang); Kaiser Permanente, Denver, Colorado (Dr. Beck); and the Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, Washington (Dr. Simon).

Address correspondence to: Nicolaas P. Pronk, PhD, Vice President, Center for Health Promotion, HealthPartners, 8100 34th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1309; E-mail address:

Nicolaas Pronk has no commercial interest related to this article.

©2004The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine