Research Study Abstract

Associations of Physical Activity with Mental Health and Work Engagement

  • Presented on April 2014

Background and Aim: Research on physical activity and mental health has mainly focused on mental disorders. However, mental health is not merely the absence of disorders but also comprises well-being. An indicator of work-related well-being is work engagement. The aim of this study was to explore associations of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) with work engagement and general mental health.

Methods: 257 employees self-reported their MVPA, mental health and level of work engagement using validated questionnaires, including the SQUASH, RAND-36, and UWES, respectively. In addition, a randomly chosen subgroup (n=100) wore an Actigraph accelerometer for a 1-week period to measure their MVPA objectively. Crude and adjusted associations between MVPA and both work engagement and mental health were analyzed using linear regression analyses.

Results: There was no statistically significant association between self-reported MVPA or objectively measured MVPA with mental health (adjusted: b=0.026; 95% CI -0.158- 0.210 and b=-0.199; 95% CI 1.417- 1.018, respectively). There was also no significant association between self-reported or objectively measured MVPA with work engagement (adjusted: b= 0.002; 95% CI -0.010- 0.013 and b=0.007; 95%CI -0.083-0.069, respectively).

Conclusions: This study found no evidence for the beneficial effects of MVPA on positive aspects of mental health. The possible difference in how the physical activity- mental health relationship works for negative and positive sides of (work-related) mental health should be considered in future studies.


  • Jantien van Berkel
  • Cécile Boot
  • Karin Proper
  • Paulien Bongers
  • Allard van der Beek

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