A European study has found white-collar male workers to be the least physically active group of the ageing workforce, putting them at a high risk of early disability retirement.
As such, the researchers say more attention should be paid to promoting physical activity of older workers at in the workplace, particularly among men and those in non-manual positions.
Researchers from Finland’s Turku University Hospital monitored 878 workers with a mean age of 62.4 for seven days. They found male workers in “non-manual” occupations performed less daily physical activity than their female counterparts.
Previous studies had found workers in non-manual occupations to report performing more physical activity during leisure time than men who perform manual work, however this study did not find this to be the case.
“Occupational physical activity contributes markedly to total daily physical activity among ageing workers,” the researchers say.
“In our study, men in non-manual occupations were especially at risk of getting too little physical activity during working days and working times.”
“They would, for example, most probably benefit from workplace interventions such as using activity-permissive workstations, increasing physical activity, such as walking up the stairs, during working time, or increasing active commuting.”
They added that workers with low physical activity levels were more likely to develop chronic conditions like musculoskeletal and cardiovascular diseases.
According to the study, high income countries around the world with ageing workforces are looking for new methods to prolong people’s working lives. The researchers say physical activity is one potential factor that can sustain workability, as low physical activity is a key risk factor for early disability retirement.
The retirement age in Australia is set to increase to 67 in 2023. The Coalition recently proposed increasing the pension age to 70 by 2035. If legislated, this would likely give Australia the oldest pension age in the developed world.