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Daily physical activity patterns among aging workers: the Finnish Retirement and Aging Study (FIREA)
  1. Anna Pulakka1,
  2. Tuija Leskinen1,
  3. Annemarie Koster2,
  4. Jaana Pentti1,3,
  5. Jussi Vahtera1,
  6. Sari Stenholm1
  1. 1 Department of Public Health, University of Turku, and Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
  2. 2 Department of Social Medicine, CAPHRI Care and Public Health Research Institute, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
  3. 3 Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Anna Pulakka, Department of Public Health, University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Turku FI-20014, Finland; anna.pulakka{at}


Objectives Physical activity is associated with the aging workers' ability to work and predicts working beyond retirement age. To better understand physical activity behaviour in this growing population group, we aimed at characterising 24-hour physical activity patterns among aging workers, and to describe the association between occupational category and total, occupational and leisure-time physical activities.

Methods We included 878 workers (mean age 62.4 years, SD 1.1, 85% women) from the Finnish Retirement and Aging Study, who wore an accelerometer on their non-dominant wrist for 1 week. We plotted mean hourly activity counts per minute (CPM) for working days and days off. We also compared mean daily CPM between genders and occupations between working days and days off, and work and leisure time by using repeated measures analysis of variance.

Results Activity patterns were different between genders, occupations and types of the day. Women (2580, 95% CI 2540 to 2620) had higher daily mean CPM than men (2110, 95% CI 2020 to 2000). Women in manual occupations were more active than women in non-manual occupations during working days. The differences among men were in the same direction but less pronounced than among women. We found no differences in activity levels between occupations during days off and leisure time on working days.

Conclusions In aging workers, physical activity differs by gender and occupation during working time, but not during leisure time. As low physical activity is associated with increased risk of early exit from employment, physical activity should be promoted at workplaces, especially among men and people in non-manual occupations.

  • occupational physical activity
  • leisure-time physical activity
  • accelerometry
  • occupational status
  • aging worker
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  • Contributors SS and JV conceived and designed this study and designed the data collection. AP analysed the data and drafted the first manuscript, with critical revisions from SS, TL, AK, JP and JV. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was supported by the Academy of Finland (projects 286294 and 294154 for SS 309526 for TL) and Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics Committee of Hospital District of South-West Finland.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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