11 November 2012

Implementation at work - motivation and maintenance

In 2014, cleaning assistants participated in different team sports such as adjusted versions of football, floorball and basketball supplemented with games, dances and circle training. Photo: Bo Kousgaard

This projects aims at finding out how and in which contexts team sports can be used in fitness programs at the workplace.


Studies indicate that the percentage of physically inactive Danes is relatively large. Among persons with physically demanding work the percentage who are physically inactive is particularly large, since these workers are often affected by work-related illnesses due to high work load, repetitive movements at work, and/or various types of pressure.

Health promotion and fitness programs in the workplace have the potential to reach these groups, helping individuals to prevent work-related illnesses as well as improve their physical fitness. But these programs, which consist of typical fitness activities, do not seem to motivate people to remain physically active over a longer period. This is especially true for persons with physically-demanding work. Studies show that, for example, the health of cleaning women is alarmingly poor. That’s why it is critical to develop new strategies and programs that will appear attractive to this specific target group.

Team sports for cleaning assistants at the workplace

The overall goal of the project is to find out how and in which contexts team sports can be used in fitness programs in the workplace, and how female cleaning assistents with poor health status can be reached.

Via the wind-down and evaluation of a team sport intervention at a Danish company, this project examines the extent to which these programs live up to the participants’ needs, promote interest in and encourage active participation in recreational physical activities.

The design of this project has found inspiration in two previous interventions:

  • A successful intervention at the Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health, where a group of untrained, middle-aged women practiced floorball for 3 months. The women were so thrilled about floorball that they continued to play after the intervention period had stopped. Interviews were performed with the majority of the participants to investigate what made the project a success, and how the results could be transferred to a target group of female cleaning assistants.
  • An intervention on female cleaning assistants from two workplaces, organized by the Danish National Centre for Work Environment. The training consisted of “ordinary” fitness training. Observations and interview with the participants were carried out, which gave an important understanding of and insight into the target group and their evaluation of the intervention.

Design and methods

On behalf of these results an intervention on 27-62 year old female cleaning assistants was carried out at the Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health in 2014. The training took place straight after work, and the participants trained together for 45 minutes twice a week.

The women participated in different kinds of team sports such as adjusted versions of football, floorball and basketball, which was supplemented with games, dances and circle training.

Prior to and after the intervention, the women were subject to health examinations and interviews were carried out to outline:

  • Experiences from the project
  • Factors that affect motivation and maintenance
  • Experience with physical activity
  • Life situation (ex work-life balance)

When analyzed, the results from this intervention will be published as ”Best practices”. Already now, the researchers see clear and positive perspectives of using team sports at different workplaces.