Dr Melanie Crane delivered this presentation at the Public Health Association of Australia’s (PHAA’s) annual prevention conference in Brisbane, 11-13 May 2022.
The findings of this study have significant implications for planning health promotion strategies for the future, given that more than half the Australian population do not currently achieve sufficient physical activity and the working environment is likely to remain a flexible home/office-based arrangement for many.
The workplace is a key setting for health promotion interventions to reduce the risk of lifestyle related diseases. But COVID-19 has changed the way we work – ‘working-from-home’ (WFH) in some form is likely to continue to be the normal work experience for many workplaces, especially desk-based jobs. This will have an impact on workplace health promotion strategies, particularly interventions in ‘workplace settings’ designed to reduce the risk of diseases related to physical inactivity and sitting time.
A repeat cross-sectional online survey of Sydney residents was conducted in November 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic (n=1926) and again in 2020 (n=1705) at the end of the first lockdown. The survey included questions about physical activity, including active travel and recreation activity, sitting time and perceptions and attitudes about their working and activity habits.
Before lockdown 12% of the sample working from home, by 2020 58% of workers working from home at least one day/week. Residents achieving sufficient physical activity did not change between 2019-2020 (p=0.3). However, the number of sessions physical activity they did changed, with fewer adults achieving recommended 150 minutes physical activity over five sessions/week in 2020 (p=0.025) – suggesting that while as many may be achieving physical activity, we may not receive optimal benefits.