Work-related repetitive strain injury and leisure-time physical activity




To investigate the relationship between leisure-time physical activity and work-related repetitive strain injury (RSI), adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics and work-related physical and stress factors.


The data source was the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey, a national cross-sectional survey of 134,072 respondents. The analysis was limited to a sample of the survey population reporting full-time work during the past 12 months (n = 58,622). The outcome of interest was work-related RSI of the upper body. Multiple logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between the outcome and leisure-time physical activity level, adjusted for sociodemographic, health, and occupational characteristics. The potential effect of leisure-time physical activity with a high upper-body load was investigated in a secondary analysis.


The prevalence of upper-body work-related RSI was 5.9% in the Canadian population in 2003. An active lifestyle during leisure time was associated with a lower prevalence of work-related upper-body RSI (odds ratio 0.84, 99% confidence interval 0.75–0.95), after adjustment for work physical demands and other covariates. Female sex, obesity, smoking, age, work-related stress, and work physical demands were associated with RSI. In the secondary analysis, we did not find that participating in leisure-time activities with a high upper-body load was a risk factor for RSI.


Our study results indicate that being physically active during leisure time is associated with a decreased risk of upper-body occupational RSI, adding another potential health benefit to participation in leisure-time physical activity.