Reduced sick leaves by 19% after a twelve-week health campaign

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Kjekt å vite

KomDaVel is a project by NHO for the cleaning industry based on companies in the Trondheim region.

The effect of a 12-week health campaign

Cleaners top the statistics for sickness absence despite being among the most physically active during the working day. They also have a very high incidence rate of musculoskeletal disorders. The KomDaVel project aimed to investigate which interventions could reduce sickness absence in this occupational group.

Research has shown a strong correlation between physical work capacity, current health, and future death. Poor physical work capacity reduces productivity and could lead to disability. Research conducted on exercise as a tool in sickness absence work shows a good effect regardless of occupational background and work tasks.

Exercise as a measure was chosen in connection with the NHO project Komdavel because a survey revealed that the group still on sick leave was very little physically active after work. 

The cleaners started physical training to improve their work capacity. At the same time, the effect of sick leave was measured. Jan&Jan was given responsibility for the implementation and execution of this project.

The project

43 participants were invited and only 8 dropped out during the period. The remaining 35 completed 2 training sessions per week over 12 weeks. Over 600 training sessions were conducted. The group consisted of 25 women and 10 men.

The participants trained according to the following method:

- 4x4 min uphill walking on a treadmill with 3 min active breaks

- 4x4 reps maximum leg press for leg strength

All training sessions were conducted in groups with certified health professionals as supervisors.

The training methods 

6 min warm-up. 4 x 4 min intervals with three min active break in between. Participants walked uphill on a 5-20 percent incline. Intensity: 85-95 percent of maximum heart rate (they breathed heavily but did not experience stiffness or discomfort). After a 4-minute interval, they should be able to tell themselves they could have managed one more minute. They spent one and a half to two minutes getting up to the right intensity and about a minute on the next moves. They walked/jogged during the break so that their heart rate was kept at about 70 percent of their maximum heart rate (talking speed). 5 minutes of calm jogging/tapering at the end. When they finish the session, they should feel they could have completed another interval. Total endurance training: 36 minutes.

Directly after the endurance training, the participants performed maximal strength training to get more robust and improve their work economy: 4 x 4 repetitions of leg press - so heavy that the participants could not do more.

This strength, together with endurance training, took only one hour each time.


25 women were, on average, 43 years old. They had the endurance/work capacity of an average 50-year-old. The increase in endurance/work capacity was equivalent to being 35 years old.

10 men were, on average, 40 years old. They had endurance/work capacity equivalent to the average 60-year-old. Their increase in endurance was equivalent to having the work capacity of workers 15-20 years younger.

The increase in endurance was 7 mL/kg min in maximum oxygen uptake in both genders. This corresponds to a 25% reduction in the risk of lifestyle diseases. Both genders experienced a 50% increase in leg strength. Reported sick leave from medical professionals decreased on average by 29% for those who exercised, measured between Q3 and Q4. Self-reported absence fell by 7% for women and 14% for men during the same period. On average, absence (both self-certified and sick leave) fell by 19% for those who participated in the project.

What's next?

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