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Active, happy and balanced: Associations of physical activity with happiness and work-life balance among Canadians

Wed., Oct. 19, 2022 2:30 p.m. - Wed., Oct. 19, 2022 3:30 p.m.

Location: CKHS 222 or YouTube Livestream

Presenter: Dr. Katya Herman

Despite evidence linking physical activity (PA) to physical and psycho-social health outcomes, and large public health efforts to increase population PA levels, a large majority of Canadian adults still fail to meet Canada’s PA Guidelines recommending at least 150 minutes/week of moderate to vigorous physical activity.  On the psycho-social side, while evidence supports the role of PA in the prevention and treatment of depression, less is known about associations with indicators of positive mental wellbeing, such as “happiness”.  To this end, using a representative sample of Saskatchewan adults (n=5284) from the 2013-14 Canadian Community Health Survey, we investigated happiness in relation to PA and whether this association might vary according to socio-demographic and health factors.  Further, given that active transportation to work has been promoted as a means to increase daily PA, another novel psycho-social health indicator is that of perceived work-life balance.  Using a representative sample of Canadians (n=7646) from the 2015 General Social Survey, we investigated associations between travel mode to work/school and indicators of subjective well-being and work-life balance.  In the first study, the proportion of respondents who reported being “very happy” increased with increasing PA levels, and being active or moderately active was associated with greater odds of being “very happy”, compared to being inactive.  However, this association was not present among those of low income, fair/poor self-rated health or fair/poor self-rated mental health, and was stronger among individuals with a higher education, smokers, and those with overweight or obesity.  In the second study, fewer than 10% of respondents reported actively commuting to work or school.  However, actively commuting was associated with significantly lower odds of reporting dissatisfaction with work-life balance and of self-identifying as a “workaholic”.  Actively commuting women especially were significantly less likely to report poor work-life balance and also less likely to report high life stress.  Hence, whether PA plays a role in happiness may depend on an individual’s overall socioeconomic and health circumstances, and active commuters may enjoy better work-life balance compared to their passively commuting peers.