Workplace Health Promotion and Physical Activity Programs


Organizations are increasingly developing and implementing workplace health programs, a significant proportion of which focus on improving the employees’ physical activity. Workplace health promotion and physical activity programs present a considerable likelihood of improving the employees’ health, productivity and quality of life (Pereira et al., 2015). Physical activity is significantly linked to the reduction of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease (Lee et al., 2012). Additionally, physical activity also results in various benefits to the organization. This is because having a workforce that is healthy and active has been demonstrated to significantly increase its productivity and decrease cases of absenteeism among employees, thereby enhancing the organization’s overall performance (Robroek et al., 2011).


Besides physical activity being a key health indicator, the workplace has also developed as a key setting in which physical activity can be promoted more effectively (World Health Organization, 2008). Therefore, given that physically activity levels are low among a noteworthy proportion of adults in the UK, and who spend significant amounts of their time at work (“Health matters: physical activity”, 2021), the workplace presents the potential of effectively reaching a majority of these adults by way of the health promotion (physical activity) programs (Knox, Musson & Adams, 2017). Studies show that physical activity promotion efforts in the workplace have resulted in modestly positive changes in the employees’ physical activity levels, their health and productivity (Hutchinson and Wilson, 2012).

Despite the increasing interest in physical activity programs within the workplace, questions have and continue to be raised with regard to their effectiveness and efficiency. The aim of this study, therefore, is to investigate the efficiency of physical activity programs at the workplace in increasing employees’ physical activity and improving or changing their health behavior.

Research Questions

Which types of employees engage in physical activity programs in the workplace?

Does improvement in physical activity at the workplace persist even outside the workplace?


Given that this is a systematic review, the study will systematically review literature from studies previously conducted on the topic. This review will be conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) protocols (Moher et al., 2015).

Literature Search Strategy

The first step in undertaking the systematic review would be a literature search. It is essential that the researcher adopts appropriate literature search approaches, which are adequately defined so as to eliminate the risk of a biased and/or incomplete search that would lead to the selection of irrelevant literature materials that would, in turn, give rise to inaccurate results (Finfgeld-Connett & Johnson, 2013). This way, the researcher will be able to improve the rigor, accuracy and trustworthiness of their study.

To identify candidate articles relevant to this review, the researcher will perform an online search of databases such as PubMed, Science Direct, and Web of Science using the following key terms: ‘workplace health promotion programs’ OR ‘physical activity programs in the workplace’ OR ‘workplace physical activity promotion’ AND ‘effectiveness of workplace physical activity programs’.

Selection Criteria

The titles and abstracts of the articles identified following the literature search will be screened for eligibility to select those that are appropriate to this review. The selection of these articles will be undertaken based on clear inclusion and exclusion criteria.

The researcher will select for review only original, published, full-text and peer reviewed studies written in the English language and which focused on physical activity in the workplace. Consequently, any duplicate articles, as well as those that were not published, peer-reviewed or written in English will be excluded.

Quality Assessment

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The articles chosen following the selection criteria will then be subjected to a quality assessment that aims to ascertain their eligibility and appropriateness. To conduct this quality assessment, the researcher will make use of the AMSTAR, an empirical checklist that was developed for the evaluation of multiple systematic reviews in order to ascertain their quality (Shea et al., 2017). The AMSTAR questionnaire comprises a set of 11 items, each of which can have a score of 0 or 1, based on whether or not the selected article conforms to the outlined AMSTAR criteria. Articles that attain an AMSTAR score of 4 or less are deemed to be of low quality, while 5-8 implies they are of moderate quality, and 9 or more suggests that the articles are of good quality (Braga et al., 2011). The researcher will select only articles that demonstrate a good methodological quality- which score 9 and above. The chosen articles’ data quality will also be assessed and verified by a co-researcher, and any arising disagreements discussed and resolved in order to obtain the final articles to be included.


  • Braga, L. H., Pemberton, J., DeMaria, J., & Lorenzo, A. J. (2011). Methodological concerns and quality appraisal of contemporary systematic reviews and meta-analyses in pediatric urology. The Journal of urology, 186(1), 266-272.
  • Finfgeld‐Connett, D., & Johnson, E. D. (2013). Literature search strategies for conducting knowledge‐building and theory‐generating qualitative systematic reviews. Journal of advanced nursing, 69(1), 194-204.
  • Health matters: physical activity. (2021). Retrieved 5 December 2021, from
  • Hutchinson, A. D., & Wilson, C. (2012). Improving nutrition and physical activity in the workplace: a meta-analysis of intervention studies. Health promotion international, 27(2), 238-249.
  • Knox, E. C. L., Musson, H., & Adams, E. J. (2017). Workplace policies and practices promoting physical activity across England: What is commonly used and what works?. International journal of workplace health management.
  • Lee, I. M., Shiroma, E. J., Lobelo, F., Puska, P., Blair, S. N., Katzmarzyk, P. T., & Lancet Physical Activity Series Working Group. (2012). Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. The lancet, 380(9838), 219-229.
  • Moher, D., Shamseer, L., Clarke, M., Ghersi, D., Liberati, A., Petticrew, M., ... & Stewart, L. A. (2015). Preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 statement. Systematic reviews, 4(1), 1-9.
  • Pereira, M. J., Coombes, B. K., Comans, T. A., & Johnston, V. (2015). The impact of onsite workplace health-enhancing physical activity interventions on worker productivity: a systematic review. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 72(6), 401-412.
  • Robroek, S. J., van den Berg, T. I., Plat, J. F., & Burdorf, A. (2011). The role of obesity and lifestyle behaviours in a productive workforce. Occupational and environmental medicine, 68(2), 134-139.
  • Shea, B. J., Reeves, B. C., Wells, G., Thuku, M., Hamel, C., Moran, J., ... & Henry, D. A. (2017). AMSTAR 2: a critical appraisal tool for systematic reviews that include randomised or non-randomised studies of healthcare interventions, or both. bmj, 358.
  • World Health Organization. (2008). Preventing noncommunicable diseases in the workplace through diet and physical activity: WHO/World Economic Forum report of a joint event.

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