Allison M. Barry1,2, Katie J. Lyman2, Nathan D. Dicks2, Kassiann D. Landin2, Christi R. McGeorge3, Tanis J. Walch4

1Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KS; 2Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND; 3Department of Human Development and Family Science, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND; 4Department of Kinesiology and Public Health Education, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND.

Physical inactivity coupled with increasing obesity levels in firefighters play a critical role in accumulating cardiovascular events. PURPOSE: To examine differences in career firefighters’ objectively measured physical activity (PA) levels while on- and off-duty. METHODS: Twenty-nine career firefighters (age: 34.45±7.15 yr; BMI: 28.97±2.52 kg · m-2) participated in a non-experimental, within-subjects study. Firefighters wore an accelerometer during waking hours of their nine-day tour, which included three, 24-hour on-duty days and six, off-duty days. Accelerometers assessed PA intensity using Freedson (1998) cut-points and step count. Height and weight were also measured to calculate BMI. Dependent t-tests, independent t-tests, and Pearson product-moment correlations were used to analyze the data in SPSS (v24). RESULTS: Firefighters (overweight=20; obese=9; normal weight=0) met the ACSM PA guidelines more often while on-duty (n=17) compared to when they were off-duty (n=9). While on-duty, firefighters attained an average of 35.51± 19.22 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) compared to 27.82 ± 18.91 minutes (p=0.055, d=0.40) when off duty. Firefighters engaged in significantly more light PA during on-duty days (351.11±59.90) compared to off-duty days (315.83±86.90) (p=0.026; d=0.47). There were significant correlations between on- and off-dutys days for sedentary behavior (r = -0.53), moderate PA (r =0.37), and MVPA (r =0.41). CONCLUSION: As a group, the firefighters in this study did not meet ACSM PA guidelines, which places them at greater risk for a cardiac event. Firefighters must rely on their cardiovascular health to perform the physiologically demanding tasks that their job requires. In the future, researchers need to collaborate with fire departments across the country to develop and assess ways to enhance PA levels in firefighters with the goal of improving their overall health and well-being, which ultimately will decrease the risk of cardiac events.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Northland ACSM Innovative Student Research Grant

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