School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

News

15 May 2018

If being active is good for your health, why do men in physically active jobs die prematurely?

If being active is good for your health, why do men in physically active jobs die prematurely? Professor Mark Hamer of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences writes for the Conversation.

Men who have physically active occupations are 18% more likely to die prematurely, according to a new study  published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The results of this study may surprise many people, given that the health benefits of regular physical activity are well established

In the 1950s, a Scottish epidemiologist called Jerry Morris conducted a study of London transport employees. He showed that bus conductors had fewer cases of coronary heart disease and they developed the condition at a later age compared with bus drivers. He concluded that “the greater physical activity of ‘conducting’ (on these double-decker vehicles) is a cause of the lower incidence and mortality in the conductors”. The neat aspect of this work was that all the men lived in broadly similar social circumstances with access to the same health and welfare services.

This is in stark contrast to findings in present day studies. In these studies people with physically active jobs (manual jobs) are likely to come from lower socioeconomic classes, whereas the people in largely sedentary jobs are from professional and managerial occupations. Unlike the London transport study, these studies aren’t comparing like with like.

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