Queen's University

Physical Activity in Shift Workers versus Non-Shift Workers using Accelerometer in Female Hospital Employees

This project was supervised by Dr. Ian Janssen from the School of Kiniesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University.

According to a recent Statistics Canada report on physical activity (PA) of Canadian Adults in 2007 to 2011, only 20% of adults (ages 18-79) are meeting the PA guideline. Although the reasons for physical inactivity are multifactorial it is likely that less leisure time due to an increase in work responsibilities may limit PA. Individuals who engage in shiftwork may have reduced opportunities to participate in leisure time PA due to fatigue associated with their irregular work schedule. Shiftwork has been associated with increased chronic disease risk, including cardiovascular, metabolic diseases and cancer. Changes in PA may be a biological mechanism by which shiftwork affects chronic disease development. As the prevalence of shiftwork continues to increase, it is important to understand the relationship between shiftwork and PA. A major limitation of studies that assess PA among shift workers is that it is often measured through self-report, which is an unreliable tool. Thus, the purpose of this study is to assess associations between shiftwork and objectively measured PA among shift workers. PA was measured in sample of 328 female healthcare workers. 160 of those participants were non-shift workers and 168 were shift workers. Participants were instructed to wear an accelerometer for seven consecutive days in order to retrieve results on the intensity (sedentary, light, moderate and vigorous) of PA each participant engaged in. The differences between PA in shift workers and non-shift workers were determined using ANCOVA and controlled for age as a covariate. With the staggering rates of chronic and metabolic diseases amongst shift workers, the identification of PA is crucial. Results can be used to guide PA interventions in this population.