On the Effects of a Workplace Fitness Program upon Pain Perception: a Case Study Encompassing Office Workers in a Portuguese Context
Introduction Office workers share several behavioural patterns: they work seated without moving for long times, they use only a few specific muscles of their arms, wrists and hands, and they keep an overall poor body posture. These working patterns generate musculoskeletal disorders, and produce discomfort or pain. Implementation of a work fitness program is thus a low-cost strategy to reduce/prevent body pain derived from work. The aim of this study was to test the benefits of a workplace fitness program, specifically applied to an administrative department of a Portuguese enterprise. Recall that this type of primary prevention level of musculoskeletal disorders has been seldom applied in Portugal, so this research effort materialized an important contribution to overcome such a gap. Methods The participants in this study were office workers (n = 29 in the study group, and n = 21 in the control group)—who consistently had reported pain mostly on their back side (neck, posterior back, and dorsal and lumbar zones), wrists and posterior legs. The workplace fitness program consisted of three sessions per week during an 8-month period, with 15 min per session; emphasis was on stretching exercises for the body regions most affected by workers’ pain perception. Each participant was requested to point out the injured region, as well as the intensity of pain felt, by using a visual analogue scale. Statistical analyses of the perceived pain data from control and study groups resort to non-parametric hypothesis tests. Results There was a strong evidence that the workplace fitness program applied was effective in reducing workers’ pain perception for their posterior back, dorsal and lumbar zones, and for their right wrist (P < 0.05). Conclusions These results generated are rather promising, so they may efficiently serve as an example for other enterprises in that country—while raising awareness on the important issue of quality of life at the workplace.
KeywordsOccupational health Ergonomics Workplace intervention Backache Injury prevention Quality of life
This project received the financial support of Maiêutica–Cooperativa de Ensino Superior, CRL (Portugal). The major collaborations and involvement of Ms. Cristina Duarte from the enterprise where the study was developed, is hereby gratefully acknowledged.
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