Exercise improves job prospects

WORKERS with long-term injuries are more likely to improve their job prospects if they undertake physical activity programs, new research has found.

A study of 355 workers, undertaken by Dianna Kenny and Eva Schonstein from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Health Services, found half improved their work status after completing an intensive supervised exercise program.

Associate Professor Kenny said that until now research into the benefits of exercise therapy had been inconclusive.

Her study was conducted with workers under 60 years of age who had a range of long-term, work-related injuries. Many had suffered their injuries more than a year before entry into the program.

The rehabilitation program involved twelve individually supervised training sessions, including exercises aimed at stretching and strengthening muscles and improving cardio vascular fitness and endurance.

Workers were also given a three month gymnasium membership which they used outside the supervised training sessions.

There was a marked improvement in the job prospects of the 302 workers who completed the program. A third of the clients who had not been working at the start of the program were able to return to work and 49 per cent experienced an improvement in their work status.

Those most likely to benefit from the exercise program and improve their work status at the conclusion of the program were those workers who began their rehabilitation within six months of injury.

“The study shows supervised physical activity programs can lead to substantial improvements in work status for both employed and unemployed workers with a range of work-related injuries of up to ten years duration,” Professor Kenny said.

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