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Article Title

COMPARISON OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND CARDIORESPIRATORY FITNESS IN MIDWEST FIREFIGHTERS

Abstract

Evan Hutcheson1, Mohan D. Perumal, Samatha R. Kopp1, Michael J. Carper1, Tanis J. Walch2, Nathan D. Dicks3, Allison M. Barry1 1Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas2 Department of Kinesiology and Public Health Education, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota3Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Exercise Science, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota

Firefighters are at an increased risk for cardiovascular events(e.g., heart attack)due to increased incidence of physical inactivity and obesity. The purpose of this study was to compare objectively measured physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness between two independent fire departments. METHODS: Two independent fire departments from the Midwest participated in the study. Waist circumference (WC) and body mass index (BMI) were used to classify obesity status. Firefighters were classified as obese if they had a WC≥102 cm and BMI ³30 kg/m2. Firefighters wore an accelerometer(ActiGrpah, wGT3X+, Pensacola, FL)to track physical activity and associated intensities for the duration of their department’s tour, which consisted of on-and off-duty days. Additionally, firefighters completed a stage-graded treadmill exercise test in their bunker gear (pants, boots, and jacket) to determine maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max). RESULTS: FD1had 29 firefighters complete the study(age: 34.45±7.15 years; BMI: 28.97±2.52kg/m2;WC: 96.48±7.45cm) and FD2 had 11complete the study(age: 36.18±4.29 years; BMI: 27.79±4.00kg/m2, WC: 94.95±6.41cm).Six firefighters were classified as obese (five from FD1and one from FD2). There were no significant differences between the two departments for sedentary (t(38) = -0.485, p>0.63), LPA (t(38)= 0.167, p= 0.87), and MVPA (t(38)=0.046, p=0.96). Where the average daily MVPA was31.3± 15.96 and 31.6± 18.28minutes/day for FD1 and FD2, respectively. Similarly, there was no significant difference in cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF)between FD1and FD2 with V̇O2max of 40.82± 6.95and 39.51±4.77 mL·kg–1·min–1, respectively(t(38)=-0.576, p= 0.58).Overall, both departments met the American College of Sports Medicine’s recommendation of at least 30 minutes of MVPA per day. However, they did not meet the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA)cardiorespiratory fitness recommendation ofV̇O2max= 42 mL·kg–1·min–1. CONCLUSION: This data demonstrates the need for increased focus on improving physical activity levels to improve overall health and wellness in firefighters. As part of the NFPA’s Wellness Fitness Initiative, fire departments should strive to have at least one hour per day of dedicated time for physical activity.

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