University of Oulu

Oura, P., Paananen, M., Niinimäki, J., Auvinen, J., Ala-Mursula, L., Junno, J.-A., & Karppinen, J. (2016). Effect of occupational physical activities on vertebral dimensions in midlife in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 74(5), 351–356.

Effect of occupational physical activities on vertebral dimensions in midlife in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966

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Author: Oura, Petteri1,2,3; Paananen, Markus1,2; Niinimäki, Jaakko1,3;
Organizations: 1Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Faculty of Medicine, Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Faculty of Medicine, Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Faculty of Medicine, Cancer and Translational Medicine Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: BMJ, 2017
Publish Date: 2019-11-14


Objectives: The vertebral cross-sectional area (CSA) is a major determinant of vertebral strength. Since leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) is known to affect vertebral CSA, we hypothesised that engagement in physical activity at work might have similar effects on vertebral size. We aimed to examine the association between various adulthood occupational physical activities (OPA) and vertebral CSA, and to evaluate the association between OPA intensity and vertebral CSA.

Methods: We used the prospective population-based Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. Our sample consisted of 712 participants with a mean age of 46.8 years. We assessed their engagement in various individual physical work activities at the ages of 31 and 46, and created overall OPA categories (high, moderate and low intensity), which we used in the analyses to study their association with vertebral CSA in middle age. Linear regression was used as the statistical method with adjustments for LTPA, vertebral height, body mass index and smoking.

Results: A statistically significant association was found between occupational sitting and smaller vertebral CSA in men, but only at the age of 31 (49.2 mm² smaller among those who sit often vs rarely (95% CI −96.0 to −2.4)). No significant differences were detected between OPA categories and vertebral CSA (p>0.05). Thus, we found no consistent association between OPA and vertebral size among either sex.

Conclusions: OPA seems to have very little effect on vertebral size. Our results suggest that the effect of LTPA on vertebral size is different to that of OPA.

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Series: Occupational and environmental medicine
ISSN: 1351-0711
ISSN-E: 1470-7926
ISSN-L: 1351-0711
Volume: 74
Issue: 5
Pages: 351 - 356
DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2016-104025
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3126 Surgery, anesthesiology, intensive care, radiology
3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: NFBC1966 received financial support from the Academy of Finland; University of Oulu (grant number 24000692); Oulu University Hospital (grant number 24301140); the Northern Finland Health Care Foundation; the Duodecim Foundation; the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture (grant number 86/626/2014); and the European Regional Development Fund ERDF (grant number 539/2010 A31592).
Copyright information: © 2017, British Medical Journal. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The Definitive Version of Record can be found online at: