Newcastle OHS, The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK


Newcastle OHS Physiotherapy Team host regular in-service training sessions including journal clubs which are engaging sessions to enhance knowledge of relevant and contemporary research.

Occupational physical activity (OPA) is an interesting and complex topic often referred to as a paradox due to conflicting understanding as to the associated benefits and risks.


  • Enhance knowledge of OPA
  • Engaging clinicians with research


The team hosted a journal club focussing on OPA. 5 Physiotherapists researched relevant journal articles and presented findings.

Discussions were held to established consensus regarding best practice advice for service users.


5 contemporary journal articles researching OPA in the form of cross sectional and longitudinal studies as well as a systematic review were presented.

Workers from a range of industries were compared from construction, healthcare, office based and manufacturing roles.

One study found some association with high OPA with higher systemic inflammation, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (Fienberg et al., 2022). Another study found positive associations with intensity of OPA and risk of cerebrovascular incidents (Hall et al., 2019)

The systematic review reported high OPA could have protective effects on risk of colorectal cancers but may increase risk of all-cause mortality in men (Cillekens et al., 2020). Another study found OPA had no impact on risk of diabetes (Gray et al., 2014), while leisure time PA and exercise may ameliorate the effects of high OPA (Merkus et al., 2022).


OPA could have positive and negative health consequences depending on intensity and wider health determinants.


Cillekens, B., Lang, M., Van Mechelen, W., Verhagen, E., Huysmans, M. A., Holtermann, A., … & Coenen, P. (2020). How does occupational physical activity influence health? An umbrella review of 23 health outcomes across 158 observational studies. British journal of sports medicine, 54(24), 1474-1481.

Feinberg, J. B., Møller, A., Siersma, V., Bruunsgaard, H., & Mortensen, O. S. (2022). Physical activity paradox: could inflammation be a key factor?. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 56(21), 1224-1229.

Gray, B. J., Bracken, R. M., Turner, D., & Prosiect Sir Gâr Group. (2014). Examining the levels of occupational physical activity and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Prim Care, 16, 293-298.

Hall, C., Heck, J. E., Sandler, D. P., Ritz, B., Chen, H., & Krause, N. (2019). Occupational and leisure-time physical activity differentially predict 6-year incidence of stroke and transient ischemic attack in women. Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health, 45(3), 267.

Merkus, S. L., Coenen, P., Forsman, M., Knardahl, S., Veiersted, K. B., & Mathiassen, S. E. (2022). An exploratory study on the physical activity health paradox—musculoskeletal pain and cardiovascular load during work and leisure in construction and healthcare workers. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(5), 2751.

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