What makes a healthier nurse, workplace or leisure physical activity? Informed by the Australian and New Zealand e-Cohort Study

Tim Henwood, Anthony Tuckett, Catherine Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim and objective: To investigate health differences between nurses who report meeting the daily physical activity recommendations in or away from the workplace. 

Background: Adhering to the national physical activity recommendations has known health benefits. Whilst often considered a workplace active profession, data are emerging of poor health amongst nurses. However, health differences between workplace or leisure-time physically active nurses are understudied. 

Design: The investigation is an observation study of Australian and New Zealand nurses. Data were generated from the longitudinal, population-based, observational e-Cohort nursing survey. 

Methods: Data were informed and groups defined by the self-reported minutes per day of moderate physical activity collected from a large international survey of practicing nurses (n=2264). Groups were: Group (G) 1 - high workplace (≥30minutes/day)/high leisure (≥30minutes/day), G2 - high workplace/low leisure (<30minutes/day), G3 - low workplace/low leisure (<30minutes/day) and G4 - low workplace/high leisure. 

Results: G2 had a high BMI and were younger than G4. G4 were significantly more active away from work and more likely to report cycling to work than G2. In contrast, G2 were most likely to have taken sick days because of their health (χ 2=19·101), have difficulty sleeping most of the time and have a medical history of diagnosed anxiety and depression. 

Conclusions: This study shows that improved well-being can be achieved in nursing cohort through leisure-time physical activity. 

Relevance to clinical practice: This research shows that nurse should consider leisure-time physical activity necessary to maintain and prolong health and that workplace activity is not a sufficient stimulus. This has important implications for workforce planners and administrators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1746-1754
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


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