Relationships between physical activity, work ability, absenteeism and presenteeism in Australian and New Zealand adults during COVID-19


Public health movement and social restrictions imposed by the Australian and New Zealand governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the working environment and may have affected health behaviours, work ability, and job performance. The aim of this study was to determine the associations between health behaviours and work ability and performance during COVID-19 restrictions and if health behaviours were related to demographic or population factors. A cross-sectional survey was used to gather responses from 433 adult employees in Australia and New Zealand between June and August 2020. The survey requested demographic information and used the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, Work Ability Index, and the World Health Organisation’s Health and Work Performance Questionnaire. Multivariate regression models were used to explore relationships between the identified variables while controlling for several possible confounders. Being sufficiently physically active was associated with higher reported physical (aOR = 2.1; p = 0.001) and mental work abilities (aOR = 1.8; p = 0.007) and self-reported job performance (i.e., lower presenteeism) (median +7.42%; p = 0.03). Part-time employees were 56% less likely (p = 0.002) to report a good or very good mental work ability. Those with existing medical conditions were 14% less likely (p = 0.008) to be sufficiently active and 80% less likely (p = 0.002) to report rather good or very good physical work ability. Being sufficiently active was associated with higher physical and mental work abilities and better job performance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers should support opportunities for regular physical activity and provide specific support to individuals with medical conditions or in part-time employment


Exercise, Physical activity, Coronavirus, Productivity, Employee, Work ability, Health promotion

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