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The effect of high physical load at work on physical function at old age
  1. A Burdorf
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr A Burdorf
 Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, Netherlands; a.burdorf{at}

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Commentary on the paper by Russo et al (see page 438)

There is ample evidence of large socioeconomic inequalities in morbidity and mortality in Western Europe. In most countries these socioeconomic inequalities in health seem quite persistent, and people with lower education, social class, or income more often suffer from ill health and die at a younger age.1 Since most morbidity and mortality happen at older age, the determinants of health among frail elderly people are increasingly studied. There is much debate as to the relative contribution of different lifestyle factors, such as smoking and leisure time physical activity. It is well documented that lack of leisure time physical activity is a powerful predictor for functional limitations, disability, and mortality at older age, most likely through its beneficial effects on physical fitness.2,3 Given these strong associations, it comes as a surprise that little is known about the effects of physical activity at work on morbidity and mortality after retirement. In some occupations the duration of physical activity at …

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