Sedentary behaviour, physical activity, and sleep among office workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a comparison of Brazil and Sweden

BMC Public Health. 2022 Nov 28;22(1):2196. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-14666-9.


BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the physical behaviours of office workers worldwide, but studies comparing physical behaviours between countries with similar restrictions policies are rare. This study aimed to document and compare the 24-hour time-use compositions of physical behaviours among Brazilian and Swedish office workers on working and non-working days during the pandemic.

METHODS: Physical behaviours were monitored over 7 days using thigh-worn accelerometers in 73 Brazilian and 202 Swedish workers. Daily time-use compositions were exhaustively described in terms of sedentary behaviour (SED) in short (< 30 min) and long (≥30 min) bouts, light physical activity (LPA), moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and time-in-bed. We examined differences between countries using MANOVA on data processed according to compositional data analysis. As Swedish workers had the possibility to do hybrid work, we conducted a set of sensitivity analyses including only data from days when Swedish workers worked from home.

RESULTS: During working days, Brazilian office workers spent more time SED in short (294 min) and long (478 min) bouts and less time in LPA (156 min) and MVPA (50 min) than Swedish workers (274, 367, 256 and 85 min, respectively). Time spent in bed was similar in both groups. Similar differences between Brazilians and Swedes were observed on non-working days, while workers were, in general, less sedentary, more active and spent more time-in-bed than during working days. The MANOVA showed that Brazilians and Swedes differed significantly in behaviours during working (p < 0.001, ηp2 = 0.36) and non-working days (p < 0.001, ηp2 = 0.20). Brazilian workers spent significantly more time in SED relative to being active, less time in short relative to long bouts in SED, and more time in LPA relative to MVPA, both during workdays and non-workdays. Sensitivity analyses only on data from days when participants worked from home showed similar results.

CONCLUSIONS: During the COVID-19 pandemic Brazilian office workers were more sedentary and less active than Swedish workers, both during working and non-working days. Whether this relates to the perception or interpretation of restrictions being different or to differences present even before the pandemic is not clear, and we encourage further research to resolve this important issue.

PMID:36443752 | DOI:10.1186/s12889-022-14666-9

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