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Open AccessArticle

The Role of Leisure-Time Physical Activity in the Change of Work-Related Stress (ERI) over Time

1
Department of Occupational Health Science, University of Wuppertal, 42119 Wuppertal, Germany
2
Institute of Medical Sociology, Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, 40225 Duesseldorf, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4839; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16234839
Received: 18 October 2019 / Revised: 25 November 2019 / Accepted: 26 November 2019 / Published: 2 December 2019
Background: Every second employee in Europe complains about work-related stress. Occupational stress due to an imbalance between efforts spent and rewards gained (effort-reward imbalance = ERI) is well investigated and it is associated with mental and physical health. A common guess is that leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) has beneficial effects on work-related stress. Yet, evidence in support of this assumption is weak, especially regarding ERI-stress. Longitudinal studies investigating the role of LTPA on ERI are missing. Therefore, this study aims to investigate the effect of LTPA on work-related stress by ERI over time. Methods: 3961 socially insured employees that were born in 1959 or 1965 and working in the first (t1: 2011) and second wave (t2: 2014) of the lidA-study were included. Work-related stress was measured by ERI, LTPA by the self-rated weekly frequency of physical activities. Besides the direct effect, a moderating effect of LTPA on ERI over time was tested in the multiple linear regression analysis. Results: The ERI at t1 was strongly associated with ERI at t2. While LTPA had no direct effect on ERI(t2), it was a significant moderator of ERI from t1 to t2: The higher the frequency of LTPA, the lower ERI was over time. This interaction of LTPA with ERI remained after adjustment for socio-demographic factors. Conclusions: The long-term moderating effect of LTPA on ERI is in agreement with former investigations on the role of LTPA on work-related stress, generally, and on its cross-sectional effect on ERI-stress, specifically. Some of Hill’s criteria of a causal association in epidemiology (biological gradient, temporality, consistency) support our findings. As LTPA has also been shown to exert a protective effect on health outcomes that are associated with ERI, the moderation of ERI by LTPA could partly explain this protective effect. Future observational and interventional studies are required to support our results over more than two age groups and study times. View Full-Text
Keywords: leisure-time physical activity; work-related stress; effort-reward imbalance; older employees; longitudinal research leisure-time physical activity; work-related stress; effort-reward imbalance; older employees; longitudinal research
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MDPI and ACS Style

du Prel, J.-B.; Siegrist, J.; Borchart, D. The Role of Leisure-Time Physical Activity in the Change of Work-Related Stress (ERI) over Time. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 4839.

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