Non-occupational physical activity levels of shift workers compared with non-shift workers.

Research paper by Bette B Loef, Gerben G Hulsegge, G C Wanda GC Wendel-Vos, W M Monique WM Verschuren, Roel C H RC Vermeulen, Marije F MF Bakker, Allard J AJ van der Beek, Karin I KI Proper

Indexed on: 23 Nov '16Published on: 23 Nov '16Published in: Occupational and environmental medicine


Lack of physical activity (PA) has been hypothesised as an underlying mechanism in the adverse health effects of shift work. Therefore, our aim was to compare non-occupational PA levels between shift workers and non-shift workers. Furthermore, exposure-response relationships for frequency of night shifts and years of shift work regarding non-occupational PA levels were studied.Data of 5980 non-shift workers and 532 shift workers from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Netherlands (EPIC-NL) were used in these cross-sectional analyses. Time spent (hours/week) in different PA types (walking/cycling/exercise/chores) and intensities (moderate/vigorous) were calculated based on self-reported PA. Furthermore, sports were operationalised as: playing sports (no/yes), individual versus non-individual sports, and non-vigorous-intensity versus vigorous-intensity sports. PA levels were compared between shift workers and non-shift workers using Generalized Estimating Equations and logistic regression.Shift workers reported spending more time walking than non-shift workers (B=2.3 (95% CI 1.2 to 3.4)), but shift work was not associated with other PA types and any of the sports activities. Shift workers who worked 1-4 night shifts/month (B=2.4 (95% CI 0.6 to 4.3)) and ≥5 night shifts/month (B=3.7 (95% CI 1.8 to 5.6)) spent more time walking than non-shift workers. No exposure-response relationships were found between years of shift work and PA levels.Shift workers spent more time walking than non-shift workers, but we observed no differences in other non-occupational PA levels. To better understand if and how PA plays a role in the negative health consequences of shift work, our findings need to be confirmed in future studies.