University of Georgia

Physical Activity May Curb Health Care Worker Burnout

Increased worker stress and burnout are associated with poor patient safety
11-Jun-2021 1:25 PM EDT, by University of Georgia

Newswise — There is no question that the pandemic has been immensely stressful for health care workers, especially for those on the frontline of patient care. Yet, even before the pandemic, the regular demands of many health care industry jobs put these workers at risk for burnout.

Now, a new study from the University of Georgia suggests that investing in more physical activity programming could mitigate the effects of stress and improve worker mental and emotional health.

Tackling burnout in health care is critical to ensuring patient safety, said lead author Marilyn Wolff, an alumna of UGA’s College of Public Health.

“Studies show increased worker stress and burnout are associated with poor patient safety. In order to keep our patients safe and provide quality health care delivery, we must first care for our health care workers, physically, mentally and socially,” she said.

Physical activity, said Wolff, is a known coping strategy against burnout, but the type of activity matters.

“Less is known about the role of physical activity people may get at work versus in their free time. I set out to better understand the separate associations of occupational and leisure-time activity with worker stress, burnout and well-being,” said Wolff.

The study surveyed 550 full-time health care employees, including physicians and nurses as well as those who didn’t work directly with patients like coders, billers and analysts. 

Respondents were asked about their physical activity on the job and physical activities they did in their free time. Workers also answered questions about their job stress, whether they felt exhausted or disengaged, and questions about their emotional well-being – all markers of burnout.

An analysis of the responses showed that employees who experienced higher levels of job-related physical activity reported feeling more stressed and exhausted. Conversely, when employees were able to spend more time doing leisure-time physical activity, their reports of job stress and exhaustion were lower.

This suggests that leisure-time physical activity was helping health care workers exit the stress cycle, said co-author Jennifer Gay, a professor of health promotion and behavior in the College of Public Health.

“The stress cycle begins with a stressor, then an individual’s physiological response to that stressor, and optimally, a release from the body’s physiological response,” said Gay. Leisure-time activity is known to help a person exit the stress cycle.

However, when reported levels of job-related physical activity were really high, leisure-time activity didn’t have the same mitigating effect on stress.

“An interesting next step in this line of research would be to examine timing of leisure-time activity related to work stress,” said Wolff. “For example, we may see less stress when workers exercise in the middle of their workday as opposed to before or after work. 

This study was done before the COVID-19 pandemic inundated hospitals and health care systems across the U.S., but Wolff and Gay say the take home message still holds true. 

“It is important for health care workers to be able to find that release to minimize stress and burnout. Physical activity is one strategy for exiting out of the stress cycle, even when the stressor is still present, like the pandemic,” said Gay.

Though more research is needed to untangle the connection between work-related physical activity and mental health, the benefits of fun physical activity are clear. More and better physical activity programming or providing structural supports that accommodate different work schedules and preferences would benefit workers, said Wolff.

The study, “Associations Between Occupational and Leisure-Time Physical Activity with Employee Stress, Burnout and Well-Being Among Healthcare Industry Workers,” was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion

Co-authors include Jennifer Gay and Mark Wilson with UGA’s College of Public Health and Pat O’Connor with UGA’s Mary Frances Early College of Education.





This release is available online at


Filters close

Showing results

110 of 5872
Released: 24-Jun-2021 4:55 PM EDT
Virus that causes COVID-19 can find alternate route to infect cells
Washington University in St. Louis

The virus that causes COVID-19 normally gets inside cells by attaching to a protein called ACE2. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that a single mutation confers the ability to enter cells through another route, which may threaten the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics designed to block the standard route of entry.

Newswise: Is it a Virus or Bacteria? New Tech Rapidly Tests for COVID-19 and More
Released: 24-Jun-2021 3:05 PM EDT
Is it a Virus or Bacteria? New Tech Rapidly Tests for COVID-19 and More
Homeland Security's Science And Technology Directorate

S&T is preparing for future outbreaks/pandemics by investing in a new tech that can quickly discriminate between bacterial and viral infections so that the U.S. can triage patients and plan a response without delay.

Released: 24-Jun-2021 12:30 PM EDT
A tecnologia de IA e ECG pode descartar rapidamente a infecção por COVID-19, concluiu o estudo da Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic

A inteligência artificial (IA) pode oferecer uma maneira de determinar com precisão se uma pessoa não está infectada com a COVID-19. Um estudo retrospectivo internacional descobriu que a infecção pelo SARS-CoV-2, o vírus que causa a COVID-19, cria mudanças elétricas sutis no coração. Um eletrocardiograma (ECG) habilitado com IA pode detectar essas alterações e, potencialmente, ser usado como um teste de triagem rápido e confiável para descartar a infecção por COVID-19.

Released: 24-Jun-2021 12:10 PM EDT
妙佑医疗国际(Mayo Clinic)的研究发现,AI赋能的心电图技术有可能迅速排除COVID-19感染
Mayo Clinic

AI (人工智能)有可能提供准确判断一个人未感染COVID-19(2019冠状病毒病)的方法。一项国际回顾性研究发现,如果感染了导致COVID-19的SARS-CoV-2病毒,患者的心脏会产生微妙的电学变化。AI赋能的心电图(EKG)可以检测到这些变化,并有望被用于进行快速、可靠的COVID-19筛查检测,以排除COVID-19感染。

Newswise: 200421_Felgner_3205_sz-2-768x496.jpg
Released: 24-Jun-2021 11:50 AM EDT
UCI Professor Wins Spain’s Prestigious Princess of Asturias Award for Scientific Research
University of California, Irvine

Irvine, Calif., June 24, 2021 — Philip Felgner, Ph.D., professor in residence of physiology & biophysics at the University of California, Irvine, is one of seven scholars worldwide to win Spain’s prestigious Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research in recognition of their contributions to designing COVID-19 vaccines.

Released: 24-Jun-2021 11:00 AM EDT
New protein engineering method could accelerate the discovery of COVID-19 therapeutics
University of Michigan

Discovering and engineering nanobodies with properties suitable for treating human diseases ranging from cancer to COVID-19 is a time-consuming, laborious process.

Newswise: Decoding humans’ survival from coronaviruses
Released: 24-Jun-2021 11:00 AM EDT
Decoding humans’ survival from coronaviruses
University of Adelaide

An international team of researchers co-led by the University of Adelaide and the University of Arizona has analysed the genomes of more than 2,500 modern humans from 26 worldwide populations, to better understand how humans have adapted to historical coronavirus outbreaks.

access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 29-Jun-2021 4:00 PM EDT Released to reporters: 24-Jun-2021 10:35 AM EDT

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 29-Jun-2021 4:00 PM EDT The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

Newswise: COVIDLockdownSimulations.jpg
Released: 24-Jun-2021 10:00 AM EDT
Pandemic Air Quality Affected By Weather, Not Just Lockdowns
Washington University in St. Louis

Using a diverse set of tools, the lab of Randall Martin shows how the pandemic did – or didn’t – affect levels of particulate matter during COVID lockdowns.

Released: 24-Jun-2021 6:05 AM EDT
Longest known SARS-CoV-2 infection of nearly 300 days successfully treated with new therapy
University of Bristol

An immunocompromised individual with the longest known PCR confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 infection, lasting more than 290 days, has been successfully treated with two investigational monoclonal antibodies (laboratory engineered antibodies). Clinicians and researchers from the University of Bristol and North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) worked closely to assess and treat the infection and want to highlight the urgent need for improved access to treatments for such people with persistent SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Showing results

110 of 5872