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Moderating Effects of Leisure-Time Physical Activity on the Association Between Job Strain and Depressive Symptoms: The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study

Yang, Xiaolin PhD; Telama, Risto PhD; Hirvensalo, Mirja PhD; Hintsanen, Mirka PhD; Hintsa, Taina PhD; Pulkki-Råback, Laura PhD; Keltikangas-Järvinen, Liisa PhD; Viikari, Jorma S. A. MD, PhD; Raitakari, Olli T. MD, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 3 - p 303–309
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318240df39
Original Articles

Objective: We examined whether long-term leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) has a moderating effect on the association between job strain and depressive symptoms using prospective data.

Methods: Full-time employees (455 men and 480 women) aged 30 to 45 years were followed from 2001 to 2007. Data were collected using questionnaires.

Results: Sustained participation in LTPA was inversely associated with depressive symptoms in employed men and women. The direct relationship of job strain to depressive symptoms was significantly moderated by LTPA only in women when the potential confounders were controlled for.

Conclusions: Depressive symptoms are inversely associated with regular LTPA and directly associated with chronic job strain in both sexes. In women, persistent participation in LTPA may modify the relation between chronic job stress and subthreshold depressive symptoms by reducing depressive symptoms associated with job strain.

From the LIKES Research Center for Sport and Health Sciences (Drs Yang and Telama), Jyväskylä, Finland; Department of Sport Sciences (Drs Telama and Hirvensalo), University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland; IBS, (Drs Hintsanen, Hintsa, Pulkki-Råback, and Keltikangas-Järvinen), Unit of Personality, Work, and Health Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Work, and Mental Health Unit (Dr Pulkki-Råback), Helsinki, Finland; Department of Medicine (Dr Viikari), University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland; and Department of Clinical Physiology (Dr Raitakari), Turku University Hospital and Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.

Address correspondence to: Xiaolin Yang, PhD, LIKES Research Center for Sport and Health Sciences, Viitaniementie 15a, 40720 Jyväskylä, Finland (

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine