WIN Wyoming

Thought Bullets
August 2005

Boosting job performance with breaks for physical activity 

A few months ago I read an article from the New York Times that highlighted the frustration many people experience when regular physical activity does not result in weight loss (Losing Patience, Not Weight by Bruce Weber, April 21, 2005).  I became enthralled by a passage in the article about Jeremy Morris, considered by many as the founder of the science of physical activity epidemiology and exercise science.  Dr. Morris published an article in 1953 that revealed a significant lower rate of heart attacks among the conductors on double-decker buses in London when compared to the drivers.  It turns out the conductors had to climb the stairs several times a day collecting tickets while the drivers did not.  The conductors climbed around 600 stairs a day, while the drivers sat for about 90% of their shift.  The conductors experienced less than half the incidence of heart attacks as the drivers.  A quick search on the internet revealed many interesting facts about Dr. Morris.  He turned 95 this year.  He followed-up on his original study to prove the protective benefit from heart attacks was from physical activity and not from body size.  The London Transport Authority provided Dr. Morris the size of trousers supplied to its staff.  It turned out the active men had lower heart attack rates whether they were “slim, average or portly.”  Additional studies compared active walking postmen to less active government workers and confirmed the finding that physical activity was protective against coronary hearty disease.  Dr. Morris is noted for communicating much meaning through few words and in 1994 he called physical activity the “best buy in public health.”  I offer Dr. Morris’ life-time achievements as the backdrop for the thought bullets this month highlighting a research project completed by a group of British researchers who found employees improved their job performance and moods by being physically active during their lunch breaks.


Compiled by Betty Holmes, MS, RD

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