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August/September 2014 (vol. 11/2)

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Research Plus

Can physical activity help cut absence?

There is limited evidence that physical activity reduces sickness absence, according to this systematic review (37 papers met inclusion criteria). Despite including nine randomised controlled trials (RCTs), the evidence is generally of low quality. Exercise is broadly categorised by intensity: low, moderate or vigorous. Evidence from the RCTs suggests that moderate intensity exercise – in one trial, for example, this included push-ups, sit-ups, squats, cycling and running – does not impact on sickness absence, while weekly exercise involving resistance or endurance training does. There is limited evidence from prospective cohort studies, using self-report questionnaires, that workers who are physically active are more likely to have lower sickness absence levels.

Does Physical Activity Have an Impact on Sickness Absence? A Review. Sports Medicine 2014; 44(7): 887–907. 

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Occupational Health at Work August/September 2014 (vol. 11/2) pp42