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Relationship Between Physical Inactivity and Health Characteristics Among Participants in an Employee-Wellness Program

Birdee, Gurjeet S. MD, MPH; Byrne, Daniel W. MS; McGown, Paula W. MSN, MAcc, RN, FNP-BC, CPA; Rothman, Russell L. MD, MPP; Rolando, Lori A. MD, MPH; Holmes, Marilyn C. MS, RD, LDN; Yarbrough, Mary I. MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 5 - p 514–519
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31827f37d7
Original Articles

Objective: To characterize factors associated with physical inactivity among employees with access to workplace wellness program.

Methods: We examined data on physical inactivity, defined as exercise less than once a week, from the 2010 health risk assessment completed by employees at a major academic institution (N = 16,976).

Results: Among employees, 18% of individuals reported physical activity less than once a week. Individuals who were physically inactive as compared with physically active reported higher prevalence of cardiovascular diseases (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.36 [1.23 to 1.51]), fair or poor health status (AOR, 3.52 [2.97 to 4.17]), and absenteeism from work (AOR, 1.59 [1.41 to 1.79]). Overall, physically inactive employees as compared with physically active employees reported more interest in health education programs.

Conclusion: Future research is needed to address barriers to physical inactivity to improve employee wellness and potentially lower health utility costs.

From the Division of General Internal Medicine and Pediatrics (Drs Birdee, Rothman, Rolando, and Yarbrough), Department of Medicine; Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health (Dr Birdee); Health and Wellness, Human Resources (Mr Byrne, Ms McGown, Ms Holmes, and Drs Rolando and Yarbrough); Department of Biostatistics (Mr Byrne); Diabetes Research and Training Center (Dr Rothman), Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn.

Address correspondence to: Gurjeet S. Birdee, MD, MPH, Vanderbilt Center for Health Services Research, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Ste 6000 Medical Center E, Nashville, TN 37232 (

Dr Birdee is supported by a Career Development Award (K23AT0006965) from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Funding for this study was provided in part by Vanderbilt University Clinical and Translational Science Award grant (UL1RR024975) from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)/National Institutes of Health. Nevertheless, the contents of this research are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NCCAM, NCRR, or Vanderbilt University.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

©2013The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine