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The Effect of Intelligent Physical Exercise Training on Sickness Presenteeism and Absenteeism Among Office Workers

Justesen, Just Bendix PhD; Søgaard, Karen PhD; Dalager, Tina MSc; Christensen, Jeanette Reffstrup PhD; Sjøgaard, Gisela PhD, DrMedSci

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2017 - Volume 59 - Issue 10 - p 942–948
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001101
Original Articles

Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of individually tailored intelligent physical exercise training (IPET) on presenteeism and absenteeism among office workers.

Methods: In a 1-year randomized controlled trial (RCT), employees were allocated to a training group TG (N = 193) or control group CG (N = 194). TG received 1-hour high-intensity IPET once a week within working hours, and was recommended to perform 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (PA) 6 days a week during leisure-time.

Results: An intention-to-treat analysis showed no effect on absenteeism, but a significant 4% increase in workability and 9% increase in general health in TG compared with CG. A per-protocol analysis [adherence of ≥70% (N = 89)] in addition showed a significant 6% increase in productivity and a 29% reduction in absenteeism compared with CG.

Conclusion: IPET combined with recommendations of leisure-time PA significantly improved presenteeism and decreased absenteeism if following the protocol.

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Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark (Dr Justesen, Dr Søgaard, Dalager, Dr Christensen, Dr Sjøgaard); Denmark Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University Hospital, Odense, Denmark (Dr Søgaard); and Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark (Dr Christensen).

Address correspondence to: Just Bendix Justesen, PhD, Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, 5230 Odense, Denmark (

Financial support was received from the companies: Implement Consulting Group, and the Simon Fougner Hartmanns Family-foundation, Denmark.

Authors Justesen, Søgaard, Dalager, Christensen, and Sjøgaard have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Supplemental digital contents are available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Copyright © 2017 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine