Nishra Patel, Nayeli Gutierrez-Padilla, Yostin Mendoza, Melissa Powers, Amy Townsend and Larissa Boyd

University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK

Many higher education workers spend the majority of their day seated, resulting in a sedentary lifestyle that has inevitable ramifications on physical health measures, such as low back pain and body composition. PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to determine if higher education employees who reported low back musculoskeletal discomfort (LBMD) have different levels of physical activity (PA) and body composition than those without LBMD. METHODS: Participants (N=76) consisted of higher education employees recruited via e-mail to participate in a worksite intervention. Prior to the intervention, participants completed the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) Long Form and the Musculoskeletal Discomfort Questionnaire (MDQ) to assess baseline PA and LMBD, respectively. Self-reported answers on the IPAQ were used to calculate weekly total, vigorous, moderate, and walking PA of at least 10-minute bouts. LBMD was reported using a pain scale of 0-10 for back pain experienced in the past 12 months. A total body dual-energy absorptiometry X-ray (DXA) scan was used to measure percent body fat (BF), fat mass, fat-free mass, and lean tissue mass. An independent t-test was used to analyze differences between individuals with and without LBMD. RESULTS: Individuals reporting LBMD had significantly lower levels of weekly moderate-intensity physical activity (696.3±667.7 vs. 1,409.3±1,191.4 METmin/wk; p<.05). Although not significant, other PA variables followed this trend with those who reported LBMD reporting lower vigorous PA (326.7±566.2 vs. 972.1±1,468.9 METmin/wk; p=.15) and total PA (1,700.8±1,302.5 vs. 5,844.0±8,717.6 METmin/wk; p=.11). The difference in BF approached significance with those reporting LBMD having higher BF than those without LBMD(38.7±5.3 vs. 34.8±9.2; p=.16). CONCLUSION: These findings demonstrate that those who reported LBMD have significantly lower engagement in moderate PA and may have lower levels of vigorous and total PA as well as higher BF. Worksite interventions to increase PA and improve body composition may be helpful in reducing the incidence of low back pain. However, more research is needed to determine the influence of other factors on low back pain including stress levels, ethnicity, and work environment to improve the current understanding on this topic.

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