Date of Award

5-2003

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Kinesiology and Physical Education

Advisor

Robert Lehnhard

Second Committee Member

Phil Pratt

Third Committee Member

Stephen Butterfield

Abstract

Comprehensive health promotion and disease management programs have evolved significantly over the last two decades in both large and small work sites. Research over this time period has yielded plenty of evidence proving health promotion programs can produce tangible outcomes. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that comprehensive work site health promotion programs can lower employee health care and insurance costs, decrease absenteeism, and improve job performance and productivity. Despite the well-known benefits of regular exercise, previous research has also shown that participation and adherence rates in work site health promotion programs have been unsatisfactory. This study was conducted to profile employee participation in work site fitness programs across the state of Maine involving both government (n=6) and private (n=7) organizations. Out of a possible 5193 employees surveyed, 1467 (28 percent) answered a questionnaire regarding their activity level at work (70.5 percent sitting, 17.1 percent walking, 12.4 percent heavy labor), their frequency of exercise (61 percent three or more days/week) and their duration of exercise (80.8 percent more than 20 minutes/session). Only 8.9 percent reported that their employers provided no form of financial support for a personal fitness program. When the responses were divided into two groups (government and private), a Chi Square test found a significant difference (pc.05) in the job site activity level and the amount of fincial support provided to employees for pursuing an exercise regime. A Chi Square test was also performed to compare the level of physical activity while on the job (sitting, walking, heavy labor), to the employees' frequency, duration and history of personal exercise, as well as to the level of financial support for personal fitness provided by the employers. Significant differences p<.05) were found in all of these comparisons. In summary, the results of this study show an unusually high percentage of workers that exercise a minimum of three days a week for at least 20 minutes each session. These results were significantly different from Chi Square predicted values. Possible explanations for this difference include the low number of surveys returned (28 percent), and/or the rural environment in the State of Maine provides greater opportunities for personal exercise in the form of outdoor recreation than those found in an urban setting.

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