“Recent evidence suggests the existence of a physical activity paradox, with beneficial health outcomes associated with leisure time physical activity, but detrimental health outcomes for those engaging in high level occupational physical activity,” say the study authors.
The results, taken from over 100,000 workers, show that men (not women) were 18 per cent more likely to die prematurely if they work in a physically demanding job, such as a labourer, landscaper, tradesperson or construction worker.
“Physical activity (PA) guidelines recommend increasing moderate intensity activity up to 300 min per week. Workers who engage in high level occupational PA are likely to exceed this duration,” explain the researchers when looking for reasoning behind their findings. The team reasons that due to a high amount of activity at work, these workers are unlikely to participate in beneficial activity during their leisure time due to tiredness and soreness. The exercise experienced at work is not necessarily conducive to positive movement towards healthy living.
The report also acknowledges the socioeconomic factors that often accompany manual workers, including income and workingplace cultural practices, such as alcohol consumption and smoking.
“Another explanation for the association of occupational PA with mortality (in men) may be the possibility of residual confounding, as high intensity occupational PA is typically prevalent among blue collar workers from lower socioeconomic positions and low socioeconomic status is associated with higher mortality.”