Physical activity, burnout and ill health status among Dutch Reformed ministers
In the most widely used definition burnout is described as "...a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment that can occur among individuals who work with other people in some capacity. Burnout, a response to chronic emotional stress, could be influenced by parameters such as ill health and physical activity. Dutch Reformed Ministers face long-lasting exposure to emotionally taxing task which have to be performed under stressful conditions, leading to the depletion of their energy and resources (Evers & Tomic, 2003; Kriel et al., 2008). Emotional taxing tasks include "pastoral care", which means that he or she is confronted with the personal problems, relationship problems, illnesses, suffering and death of other people (Muller, 1992). The objective of this study was to explore the relationship between physical activity, burnout and ill health status among Dutch Reformed Ministers. Respondents comprised of 87 males and females with an average age of 46.7 years. The level of burnout was determined by using the Personal Multi-Screening Inventory (PMSI) Questionnaire (Faul & Hanekom, 2005), focusing on frustration, stress and helplessness. The type, intensity, frequency and duration of participation in physical activity was determined by the physical activity index (P AI) as suggested by Sharkey (1997). Self-reported ailments and diseases, with or without chronic medication, were listed. Emotional burnout, depression and chronic anxiety were the three psychological problems most frequently reported in this population. The mean index of physical activity participation was 38.97, which is regarded as highly active, although 22% of the subjects fell in the low activity group. From the descriptive data it was clear that "low", "moderate" and "high" levels of physical activity, all included cases of overweight. Anxiety-related disorders (25%) were most common among D.R. Ministers, regardless of level of physical activity. Burnout levels were lower among highly physically active ministers (12%) compared to moderately active ministers (20%). The top 5 diseases of the total group included 4 physiological diseases (low back pain, high cholesterol, pain in upper limbs, hypertension); however, psychological diseases such as anxiety related disorders were most common. Lower backache (21%) and high cholesterol levels (21%) also presented with high scores, which indicated the possibility of bad health habits in other wellness components, i.e. apart from the lack of physical activity. Pain in shoulders, arms and hands (15%), and hypertension (15%) also presented rather frequently. According to the results it appeared that burnout was common among Dutch Reformed Ministers, along with other ill health status indicators, even though high levels of physical activity were reported.