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Workplace physical activity interventions: a systematic review

L. Dugdill (Centre for Public Health Research, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
A. Brettle (Centre for Nursing, Midwifery and Collaborative Research, University of Salford, Salford, UK)
C. Hulme (Academic Unit of Health Economics, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)
S. McCluskey (Cancer Research UK Clinical Centre, St James University Hospital, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, and)
A.F. Long (School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 28 March 2008




This paper aims to report a synopsis of a recent systematic review of the literature regarding the effectiveness of workplace physical activity interventions, commissioned by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).


A search for English‐language papers published between 1996 and 2007 was conducted using 12 relevant databases and associated grey literature. Search protocols and analysis regarding study quality as recommended by NICE were utilised. Key inclusion criteria were, workplace intervention aiming to increase physical activity, intervention aimed at working adults, intervention initiated/endorsed by the employer, physical activity outcome. Thirty‐three studies (38 papers) met the inclusion criteria and were independently reviewed (checked by two reviewers) with a narrative synthesis of findings.


Fourteen studies were graded as high quality or good quality. Evidence from previous systematic reviews was inconclusive. Data regarding the effectiveness of stair walking interventions was limited and intervention effects were short‐lived. Three public sector studies provided evidence that workplace walking interventions using pedometers can increase daily step counts. One good quality study reported a positive intervention effect on walking to work behaviour (active travel) in economically advantaged female employees. There was strong evidence that workplace counselling influenced physical activity behaviour. There is a dearth of evidence for small and medium enterprises.

Research limitations/implications

Due to the necessary UK focus and time constraints, only studies from Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada were included.


The paper shows that there is a growing evidence base that workplace physical activity interventions can positively influence physical activity behaviour.



Dugdill, L., Brettle, A., Hulme, C., McCluskey, S. and Long, A.F. (2008), "Workplace physical activity interventions: a systematic review", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 20-40.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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