Exercise Intervention May Reduce Risk of Metabolic Diseases and Improve Work Productivity

Alison Rodriguez

An exercise-focused intervention may be effective for improving mental health, work ability, and productivity outcomes while reducing metabolic syndrome severity for individuals at a high risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disease, according to researchers.

A study, published by The Lancet Public Health, evaluated company employees to determine the effects of regular telemonitoring-supported physical activity on metabolic syndrome severity and work ability. Individuals with metabolic syndrome were randomly assigned to a 6-month lifestyle intervention involving regular exercise or to a control group. Those in the intervention group received personalized recommendations for exercise with a goal of completing 150 minutes of physical activity per week, with activity-monitor data being collected during the exercise periods.

The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise along with a balanced diet, for optimal health.

“Evidence before this study showed metabolic syndrome not only increases morbidity and cardiovascular mortality, but is also associated with loss of productivity and sickness absence in the working population, thereby increasing costs for the public-health system and the employer,” the authors noted. “Physical activity has an impact on metabolic syndrome severity and work ability, yet the influence of regular exercise on work ability in employees diagnosed with metabolic syndrome is not known.”

A total of 314 individuals received the intervention, while 154 people were in the control group. For those following the intervention, the average metabolic syndrome score reduced significantly after the 6-month intervention period compared to the other group. Additionally, the total score of the work ability index increased in the exercise group, including current work ability, work ability in relation to demands, and mental resources.

“The observation that improvements in exercise capacity and mental health are associated with changes in work ability shows the need to offer similar interventions broadly across the working population, not only to reduce individual risk of disease, but also to possibly ease the health-care burden and economic costs arising from metabolic syndrome conditions in an ageing population, an issue that should be addressed in further studies,” the study explained.

The authors noted that further research is needed to assess the efficacy of exercise-based intervention in a different sample, such as obesity. Due to the employee sample, the study also emphasized the socioeconomic relevance of these findings and how the exercise intervention could improve work productivity.

“Our results suggest that offering similar interventions to a broader workplace population could not only reduce individual disease risk, but also ease the burden in public health care and employers’ costs arising from metabolic syndrome conditions,” concluded the authors.

Print | AJMC Printing...