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Article Title

DISCREPANCIES BETWEEN SUBJECTIVE SELF-REPORTED AND OBJECTIVE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY IN EMPLOYEES MOVED TO HOME WORKING ENVIRONMENTS DURING COVID-19

Abstract

C. Travis, K. Butte, D. Cannavan, J. Geiger, J. Hossler

Seattle Pacific University

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of work environment (home vs. office), self-reported health and physical activity (PA), and objective step counts in full-time sedentary employees during COVID. METHODS: Participants (N= 50; Mage = 40±12yrs) were full-time employees in sedentary (“desk”) jobs during January to August 2021 (i.e., COVID-19). Participants completed a survey for self-reported health and PA; they also wore an ActivPAL device for ≥4 valid days (≥10hr/d) to objectively measure step counts. Chi-Squares tests and independent sample t-tests were used to assess differences in self-reported health, PA, and step count between subjects who had their work environment change (i.e., work from home) compared to those with no change (i.e., office) in work environment due to COVID-19. RESULTS: Subjects that had their work environment change (i.e., 59% now work exclusively from home; 41% work from a mix of home/office) due to COVID-19 were significantly more likely to self-report their physical health as excellent (76% vs. 45%, p<0.04), had higher step count (8,174 vs. 5,770 steps/d; p <0.034), and reported more weekly muscle strengthening PA (2.3 vs. 0.7days/wk; p<0.044) than subjects who did not change work environment. However, there were no significant differences in reported weekly aerobic PA (77 vs. 143 min/wk; p<0.22). CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 has affected many employees’ work environments, which in turn affects their health and PA. Employees that transitioned to work remotely from home self-reported better overall physical health and had higher step counts while also reporting no significant difference in their aerobic PA on average. It is possible this difference is due to more flexible working schedules, more discretionary stepping around the house, or opportunities such as more access to frequent breaks or walking paths. Another possibility is that individuals spending more time at home decrease their commute time in a vehicle and are more likely to take part in more household activities that drive up their step count, such as vacuuming, cleaning, cooking, etc. The current study supports added activity benefits when working from home. While the source of these benefits is still unknown and requires further research to how individuals spend time in their home.

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