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Occupational Physical Activity Opposes Obesity

A Cross-Sectional Modern Replication of the Morris 1953 London Busmen Study

Gay, Jennifer L., PhD; Buchner, David M., MD, MPH; Smith, Jessalyn, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2019 - Volume 61 - Issue 3 - p 177–182
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001489

Objective: Examine the importance of occupational light-intensity physical activity (PA) and short bouts of moderate-vigorous PA (LSBPA), to opposing obesity, including an approximate replication of the London busmen study comparing waist circumference of workers with high versus low levels of occupational activity.

Methods: Working adults wore an accelerometer, completed anthropometric measurements, and provided work schedules. Participants’ (n = 435) activity was classified as either occupational or non-occupational minutes, and by intensity.

Results: Body fat percentage was inversely associated with occupational-LSBPA in participants who did not meet PA guidelines, but not in those who met guidelines. In the London busmen replication, more active workers had smaller waist circumferences than sedentary workers, controlling for non-occupational activity.

Conclusions: Work-related LSBPA may be an important and under-recognized source of PA that opposes adiposity for people who do not meet PA guidelines.

Department of Health Promotion & Behavior, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia (Dr Gay); Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois (Dr Buchner); and Data Recognition Corporation, Maple Grove, Minnesota (Dr Smith).

Address correspondence to: Jennifer L. Gay, PhD, Department of Health Promotion & Behavior, University of Georgia, 100 Foster Road, 251E Wright Hall, Athens, GA 30602 (

Funding: This work was supported by American Heart Association. Grant #13crp14370001 (J.L.G.).

Gay, Buchner, and Smith 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.

Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine