The previous study revealed that the mere volume of PA does not seem to be an issue in apprentices of nursing care and automotive mechatronics. Supported by insights of the PA paradox, we instead deduced that focusing on individual’s coping mechanisms and resources in dealing with physical demands could present a more promising health-promoting strategy with this population. The goal of the next part of the PArC-AVE Study was to empirically test this assumption on a larger scale.
As a suggested framework that specifies competencies when individuals have to master physical activities in a healthy manner, we used the model of physical activity-related health competence (PAHCO) [40
]. Compared with the physical literacy concept, the PAHCO approach highlights the more functional role of these competencies being explicitly geared towards individual’s health [42
]. A main characteristic of this framework (Figure 1
) is its integrative core comprising person-related factors for ensuring both the quantity (volume of PA) and, importantly, the quality (health-relatedness) of physical activities. Specifically, the model postulates that individuals require three central sub-competencies: movement competence, self-regulation competence, and control competence. Movement competence refers to the direct motor requirements for mastering activities of daily life and participating in physical exercises. Self-regulation competence bundles the psychological factors ensuring a regular and self-determined execution of physical activities and exercises. Finally, as a more qualitative dimension, control competence guarantees that activities are not only performed as frequently and intensively as possible but that they are adequately aligned to the individual’s physical condition and psychological well-being as well.
For workplace-based health promotion, the employees’ work ability and health are crucial outcomes for evaluating the success of interventions in this field [11
]. Work ability can be defined as “an employee’s physical, psychological, and social capacity to work” [11
]; its biopsychosocial understanding explains why researchers identified conceptual overlaps with the construct of health [11
]. In general, having a good work ability and health is of major interest to almost all actors in the occupational setting, often providing the opportunity for “a win-win situation” [45
]. On the one hand, it is possible to take an economic-utilitarian view on work ability and health, emphasizing the perspective of employers. For instance, studies have shown that positive values are indicative of a large amount of outcomes beneficial to the enterprise such as job performance, productivity [46
], few sick days [49
], and reduced risk of serious work disability [50
]. On the other hand, the constructs can also be viewed from a personal growth or human resource standpoint. Through this lens, studies can be reported that demonstrate work ability and health are related to job satisfaction [51
], lower turnover intentions [53
], higher subjective well-being [54
], and better quality of life [55
]. Based on this assumption, companies should have an intrinsic interest in employing people who have a good work ability and health [56
]. Due to their importance in the context of work, we drew on these two constructs as our primary outcomes.
Based on the insights from the first study and the evidence from the literature, we hypothesized that there was a small yet significant association between the apprentices’ amount of PA and their work ability [44
] and health [8
] levels. However, it was expected that aspects of PAHCO, which allow apprentices to better cope with physical and psychological work demands, were more strongly related to work ability and health than the mere PA volume. This would mean that the predictive contribution of the latter variable would be undermined in a combined analysis.