Friday, March 30, 2007

Physical Activity Cuts Risk of Repetitive Strain Injury

(HealthDay News) -- Being physically active may reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries at work, according to a new Canadian study.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver analyzed data from the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey. They found that the overall prevalence of repetitive strain injury (RSI) was about 10.9 percent, and that the prevalence of work-related RSI was about 4.7 percent. Upper body injuries (most commonly wrist/hand, shoulder and elbow) accounted for 63 percent of RSI in full-time workers.

Physical work demands, work-related stress, obesity, and smoking were among the risk factors associated with upper-body work-related RSI, the study said. Women and people ages 30-49 were also at higher risk. Being physically active appeared to help reduce the risk of work-related RSI.

"This finding provides evidence for a hypothesis that an active lifestyle outside of work may protect against work-related RSI, adding another potential health benefit to leisure-time physical activity participation," the study authors wrote.

Physical activity may promote mechanical and metabolic processes in the musculoskeletal system that counter the repetitive or sedentary effects of many jobs, the researchers said. It may also improve upper body muscle strength and better balance of movement.

"Work-related RSI is a common problem that has significant costs in terms of lost wages and productivity, medical care and quality of life," the study authors wrote. "It is important to identify lifestyle factors that may protect against RSI in order to inform employers, compensation boards, and the working population. Identification of safe physical activities may reduce RSI and provide multiple other health benefits."

The findings are published in the April issue of the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about repetitive motion disorders.

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