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Research Underscores Need for Job-Related Fitness

October 23, 2007  | 

Police officers must participate in manual labor daily, requiring the utmost physical health. But few maintain a healthy fitness level, leaving them at risk of injury. According to Brian Sharkey, co-author of Working Hard (Human Kinetics, February 2008) individuals whose occupation involves physical labor can greatly decrease their chances of getting hurt on the job by maintaining a lifelong fitness program.

Police officers and firefighters undergo extensive physical training to get on a department, but few are required to maintain a fitness program after being hired, leaving them out of shape and at risk of getting hurt on the job. One study on service workers showed the body fat levels of emergency service personnel doubled and fitness declined during their 20-year careers.

"Passing an entry-level test does not ensure career-long fitness for duty," Sharkey says. "The solution is to test recruits and follow up with an annual performance evaluation, coupled with a job-related physical maintenance (fitness) program."

According to Sharkey, the effects of training can be lost in as little as 12 weeks and three weeks of complete bed rest can cause a fitness decline of 29 percent, or 10 percent per week. But, Sharkey adds the loss can easily be restored with a return to training.

Sharkey advises that a fitness programs should include job-related exercises. An aerobic fitness element is important for police officers who can spend hours behind a wheel of a car, but then must chase and subdue a suspect.

"Hard work usually involves a high level of aerobic and muscular fitness," Sharkey states. "Those who meet these requirements are able to perform while maintaining a margin of safety and ability to respond to emergencies."

For more information on Hard Work contact Human Kinetics at 1-800-747-4457 or visit www.HumanKinetics.com.

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