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Physical Activity, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Body Mass Index in Relationship to Work Productivity and Sickness Absence in Computer Workers With Preexisting Neck and Upper Limb Symptoms

Bernaards, Claire M. PhD; Proper, Karin I. PhD; Hildebrandt, Vincent H. PhD, MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2007 - Volume 49 - Issue 6 - p 633-640
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318058202c
Original Articles

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate associations among three modifiable risk factors (ie, physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, and body mass index), work productivity, and sickness absence in computer workers.

Methods: All participants were computer workers with neck and upper limb symptoms in the preceding 6 months, the last 2 weeks, or both. Productivity and sickness absence were assessed with the Health and Performance Questionnaire (HPQ).

Results: Physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness were not associated with work productivity or sickness absence. Obese male workers reported lower absolute productivity than lean workers. Lean and overweight workers reported similar productivity levels. Body mass index was not associated with sickness absence.

Conclusions: In a population of white-collar workers with neck and upper limb symptoms, obese male workers showed significantly lower productivity than did lean or overweight workers.

From the Body@Work Research Centre for Physical Activity, Work and Health TNO-VUmc (Drs Bernaards, Proper, and Hildebrandt), Amsterdam, the Netherlands; TNO Quality of Life (Drs Bernaards and Hildebrandt), Leiden, the Netherlands; and the Department of Public and Occupational Health (Drs Bernaards and Proper), VU University Medical Center, EMGO Institute, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Address correspondence to: Claire Bernaards, PhD, TNO Quality of Life, PO Box 2215, 2301 CF Leiden, the Netherlands; E-mail:

©2007The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine