Background
The teaching profession is characterized by high levels of stress and physical complaints,which might be improved through regular participation in physical activity (PA). However,the effect of PA on mental and physical health is not always consistent and depends on thetype of PA performed. The aim of this study was to examine the mental, physical, and workrelatedhealth of Flemish secondary school teachers and identify the impact on those healthvariables by demographic and teaching-related factors and various types of PA.

Methods
This study included an online survey conducted across a representative sample of secondaryschool teachers (n = 1066, average age 40 years; 68 percent female). Level of PA and sittingtime were estimated using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, and perceivedmental health and physical health were estimated using the Short Form 36. Work-relatedfactors such as job satisfaction, occupational stress, and absenteeism were also collected. Ttests,ANOVAs, and linear regression analyses were performed.

Results
Flemish secondary school teachers have poorer perceived mental and physical health than ageneral healthy population. This difference is particularly evident among female teachers,who reported lower perceived health, more occupational stress, and more absent dayscompared to their male colleagues. Higher participation in leisure-time PA was associatedwith a more positive perceived health. In contrast, higher levels of occupational PA andsitting time had a negative impact on perceived health. Total amount of PA, total amount ofmoderate-to-vigorous PA, transportation-related PA, and PA at home were not associated toteachers' perceived health.ConclusionBecause secondary school teachers' levels of perceived health are low, they are an importanttarget group for interventions aiming to improve health. Only leisure-time PA was associatedwith more positive perceived health. This finding may indicate that teachers performing moreexercise during leisure time, or in a more autonomous way, may be more resistant to physicaland mental health problems. Future research should verify whether promoting leisure-timePA among teachers has the potential to improve their mental and physical health, andcounteract the negative associations between teachers' health and their occupational PA.
Original languageEnglish
Article number534
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2014

    Research areas

  • Well-being, Teachers, Leisure-time physical activi, Occupational physical activity, Job satisfaction, Occupational stress, Absenteeism

ID: 2539771