In initiative overload: Australian perspectives on promoting physical activity in the workplace from diverse industries

Chau, Josephine Y. and Engelen, Lina and Kolbe-Alexander, Tracy and Young, Sarah and Olsen, Heidi and Gilson, Nicholas and Burton, Nicola W. and Bauman, Adrian E. and Brown, Wendy J. (2019) In initiative overload: Australian perspectives on promoting physical activity in the workplace from diverse industries. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16 (3 - Article 516). ISSN 1661-7827

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Abstract

Introduction: With two thirds of adults in paid employment and one third physically inactive, workplaces are an important setting for promoting more physical activity. We explored the attitudes and practices of employees and managers from different industries towards sitting and moving at work, to inform the development of acceptable solutions for encouraging businesses to adopt activity-promoting workplaces. Method: We conducted focus groups with employees and structured interviews with upper/middle managers from 12 organisations in a range of industries (e.g., education, healthcare, manufacturing, construction, insurance, mining). Topics focused on past and current workplace health and wellness initiatives, workplace culture and environment related to physical activity, responsibility for employee physical activity patterns at work, and enablers of/barriers to activity promoting workplaces. Results: Physical activity was not an explicit priority in existing occupational health and wellness initiatives. Instead, there was a strong focus on education about preventing and managing injuries, such as manual handling among non-office workers and desk-based ergonomics for office workers. Physical activity was viewed as a strategy for maintaining work ability and preventing injury, particularly in blue-collar staff, rather than for chronic disease prevention. Managers noted structural/organisational barriers/enablers to promoting physical activity at work (e.g., regulations, costs, competing concerns), while employees tended to focus on individual constraints such as time and geographic location. The issues of 'initiative overload' and making physical activity a part of 'business as usual' emerged as strong themes from employees and managers. Conclusions: While there is stakeholder enthusiasm for creating activity-promoting workplaces, multi-level support is needed to make physical activity an integral part of day-to-day business. The synergism between occupational health and safety priorities could be leveraged to facilitate the creation of activity-promoting workplaces.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published version made available in accordance with a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Health and Wellbeing (1 Jan 2015 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Health and Wellbeing (1 Jan 2015 -)
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2019 04:35
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2019 05:50
Uncontrolled Keywords: physical activity; workplace; health promotion; qualitative
Fields of Research : 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science > 110699 Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 92 Health > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920401 Behaviour and Health
C Society > 92 Health > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920505 Occupational Health
Funding Details:
Identification Number or DOI: 10.3390/ijerph16030516
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/35784

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