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Improved fitness after a workbased physical exercise program

Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz (Medical Management Centre, Department of Learning, Informatics, Management and Ethics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden)
Petra Lindfors (Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects on fitness outcomes of a work-based physical exercise (PE) intervention among women working in older people’s care. In addition, effects on productivity-related outcomes including work ability and sickness absence were studied.


Employees participated in a one-year intervention involving two one-hour weekly mandatory PE sessions. The intervention (n=13) was compared to referents (n=12). Fitness tests and self-reports on work ability and sickness absence were obtained before the intervention (T1), six months into the intervention and after 12 months.


Fitness test scores (corrected for age and weight) increased significantly over time in the intervention group but not among referents. Perceived exertion decreased significantly in the intervention group and increased significantly among referents. For self-rated work ability and sickness absence, no significant time or group differences emerged.

Research limitations/implications

Further research on larger groups of women is needed to delineate the effects of PE on self-rated productivity and performance.

Practical implications

Work-based PE programs can improve fitness among women in older people’s care.

Social implications

With previous research having primarily focussed on men, this study shows that women in blue-collar jobs also may benefit from taking part in work-based PE programs.


This paper makes an important contribution through its focus on the effects of a work-based PE program on fitness and possible relations to productivity, among employed women.



The authors are indebted to all employees who volunteered participation. The authors also thank those who assisted us in various parts of the data collection. The data collection and involvement of researcher during the intervention project was financed by grants from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (Ref. No. 2003-0173). Grants from AFA Insurance (Ref. No. 090043) The writing of this paper was supported by grants from AFA Insurance (Ref. No. 090043). Petra Lindfors held a senior research fellowship at Stockholm University, Department of Psychology and was supported by the Stockholm Stress Center.


von Thiele Schwarz, U. and Lindfors, P. (2015), "Improved fitness after a workbased physical exercise program", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 61-74.



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