Maximal aerobic capacity linked to LTPA but not OPA in office workers

office workout

Office workers may need to engage in adequate high-intensity physical activity in recreation to maintain or improve their cardiovascular fitness and reap its health benefits, with a recent cross-sectional study showing that maximal aerobic capacity is associated with leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) but not with occupational physical activity (OPA) on workdays.

The study included 303 healthy and full-time employees (mean age 33 years; 63 percent male). Demographic, height, weight and BMI data were obtained. These individuals were stratified according to their OPA levels: high, moderate or low.

Physical activity was measured on 7 consecutive days (23 hours/day) using the SenseWear Mini Armband. Participants with ≥30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day were considered sufficiently active. Maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) was assessed using the multistage 20-metre shuttle run test.

A multiple linear regression model identified positive associations between VO2max and LTPA at vigorous intensity (β=0.212), and VO2max and sufficient moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (β=0.100) on workdays.

Other independent predictors of VO2max included female gender (β=-0.622), age (β=-0.264), BMI (β=-0.220), the ratio of maximum to resting heart rate (β=0.192), occupational group (low vs high OPA, β=-0.141) and smoking (β = -0.133).

Good cardiorespiratory fitness (high VO2max value) is known to reduce the risk of various diseases in the general population. However, the findings show that OPA does not contribute to an improvement in VO2max.

Researchers pointed out that intensive physical exercise in leisure-time in the range of high-to-very high intensity (ie, athletic cycling, soccer, martial arts, squash, inline skating or aerobics) was required to maintain or improve maximal aerobic capacity.

Implementing an attractive and intensive sports programme at the workplace, such as lunch-time or after-work exercise, should help improve the overall health in the working population, they added.