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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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Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

John Badolato @ 10/24/2007 6:33 PM

This relates to another study undertaken a few years ago. The author of that study had created a fitness challenge called LEOPARD in a effort to get law enforcement officers to get more involved in fitness. I remember thta his syudy showed that push ups should only not be used in PT class as they showed no tactical purpose.

LAWDOG411 @ 11/12/2007 5:26 PM

This article makes some good points; however, let's worry about the steak and not the beans. Any fitness program is going to benefit officers. From Bowflex to running it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that officers make fitness a priority in their lives. I work out for about an hour each day and incorporate resistance training with cardio. Everything I do contributes and applies to job-related activities because I’m faster and stronger on duty than I would otherwise be. I see slugs on the job more frequently now than I used to and I wonder sometimes why that is. I’ve been on the job for about ten years and I have seen younger and older cops who are just fat. My philosophy is that you train for the road. Parolee's do a violation for six months and manage to get ripped and get in shape during their time. I continually train so that I can stay alive and deal with these felons when they are fresh out of the bucket. How can anyone honestly say that pushups don’t apply to duty related tasks? Pushups increase chest and arm strength among other things. Increased arm and chest strength directly relate to a number of job related benefits. In closing, I think we should all take our fitness a little more seriously and put the pizza down. Have a salad instead. Instead of going home from your graveyard shift and watching television for an hour, walk around your neighborhood for 30-45 minutes.

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