Increased Physical Activity Linked to Higher Work Engagement

Employees with higher leisure-time physical activity have increased work engagement, reports a study in the July Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Assessed both subjectively and objectively, physical activity is positively associated with work engagement—with potential benefits for both employees and employers, according to the new research by Heli Kiema-Junes, PhD, of University of Oulu, Finland, and colleagues. They write, "Our findings suggest that promoting physical activity and reducing sedentary time are vital for work engagement."

Using data on working adults from a large Finnish population study, the researchers found that employees reporting higher levels of leisure-time physical activity scored higher on a measure of work engagement—including the subdimensions of vigor, dedication, and absorption. Employees who said they participated in sports also had increased work engagement. In contrast, employees reporting more sedentary time had lower work engagement.

Objective assessments of physical activity level—measured using an accelerometer—were also positively associated with work engagement. Even light levels of physical activity, measured objectively were linked to increased work engagement, possibly reflecting an association with decreased sedentary time.

"Work engagement has many positive outcomes for both employees and organizations," according to the authors. In previous studies, work engagement has been linked to a wide range of benefits, including improved employee health, increased work performance, and decreased absenteeism.

While emphasizing the need for follow-up studies, Dr. Kiema-Junes and colleagues conclude, "Promoting employees' leisure-time and total physical activity may promote work engagement." The researchers add: "Even light physical activity may foster work engagement, possibly by promoting general psychological well-being and recovery from work."
About the Author
Dr. Kiema-Junes may be contacted for interviews at
ACOEM (, an international society of 4,000 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.
About the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine ( is the official journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edited to serve as a guide for physicians, nurses, and researchers, the clinically oriented research articles are an excellent source for new ideas, concepts, techniques, and procedures that can be readily applied in the industrial or commercial employment setting.


Kiema-Junes H, Saarinen A, Korpelainen R, et al. More Physical Activity, More Work Engagement? A Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 Study J Occup Environ Med. 2022;64(7):541-549.