Work ability is influenced by physical fitness, social life and cognitive functions
Due to demographic change, it is becoming increasingly important to maintain the working capacity of ageing workforces. In a recent study, researchers from the Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environments and Human Factors in Dortmund (IfADo) therefore investigated the relationship between changing lifestyle factors, cognitive functions and their influence on work ability. The results show that the ability to work is influenced by various factors in the course of working life.
The study results underline the importance of an active social life outside the workplace for work ability, regardless of the age of the workers. The influence of physical fitness on work ability changes with age, which points to the need for a differentiated view of age effects.
Work ability is influenced by various factors in the course of working life. In particular, social activities outside work and physical activity in leisure time increase well-being and health and can act as a compensation for work-related negative aspects such as psychosocial stress or even poor working conditions.
Data from about 500 workers analysed
The study analysed cross-sectional data from 247 middle-aged and 236 older workers from the Dortmund Vital Study. The results show that social life outside work had significant positive effects on work ability in both middle-aged and older adults.
Physical fitness had a significant effect on work ability only in middle-aged adults, while cognitive functions had no significant effect on work ability in either group. In older adults, physical fitness correlated with cognitive functions, while in middle-aged adults, cognitive functions correlated only slightly with social life.
PD Dr. Patrick Gajewski
Research Assistant Ergonomics
Phone: +49 231 1084-383
Rieker, J.A., Gajewski, P.D., Reales, J.M. et al. The impact of physical fitness, social life, and cognitive functions on work ability in middle-aged and older adults. Int Arch Occup Environ Health (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-022-01943-8