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Background: Physically active occupations with high-energy expenditure may lead to lower motivation to exercise during leisure time, while the reverse can be hypothesized for sedentary occupations. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of changing occupational activity level on exercise behavior. Methods: Data on occupational physical activity and leisure time exercise were taken from a population-based cohort, with surveys completed in 2010 and 2014. Using data on those employed in both years, two trajectories were analyzed: (i) participants who changed from sedentary to active occupations and (ii) participants who changed from active to sedentary occupations. Exercise was reported in hours per week and changes from 2010 to 2014 were categorized as decreased, increased or stable. Associations were expressed as ORs and 95% CIs adjusting for age, gender and education. Results: Data were available for 12 969 participants (57% women, aged 45 ± 9 years, 57% highly educated). Relative to participants whose occupational activity was stable, participants who changed to active occupations (n = 549) were more likely to decrease exercise (OR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.02–1.47) and those who changed to sedentary occupations (n = 373) more likely to increase exercise levels (OR = 1.21, 95% CI = 0.97–1.52). Conclusion: People changing from sedentary to active occupations compensate by exercising less, and those changing from physically active to sedentary occupations seem to compensate by exercising more in their leisure time. When developing and evaluating interventions to reduce occupational sedentary behavior or to promote exercise, mutual influences on physical activity of different contexts should be considered.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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