Phil J. Agostinelli1, Rebecca M. Hirschhorn2, JoEllen M. Sefton1. 1Auburn University, Auburn, AL. 2Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA.

BACKGROUND: Insufficient fitness can impair performance and increase injury risk in firefighters. It is important that firefighters engage in regular exercise to remain occupationally ready. However, firefighters face multiple barriers to exercise; including irregular shift schedules, frequently working overtime, and physically and mentally exhaustive job demands. The purpose of this study was to assess exercise habits, facility resources, and other barriers to fitness for firefighters in the southeastern United States. METHODS: This cross-sectional study consisted of a 41-item online Qualtrics questionnaire with six sections: demographics, work demands, physical activity and exercise, cardiovascular exercise, resistance exercise, and facility resources. Participants were recruited using a snowball method, through social media posts and flyers, in addition to emails sent to fire departments across 7 states in the southeast United States. RESULTS: Approximately 65% (N = 271) engage in 30+ min/day of exercise. More firefighters engaged in exercise when more on-site equipment options were available (p = 0.001). Average calls/shift was not related to exercise days/week or minutes/day (p > 0.40). On-shift exercise did not differ based on a positive/negative perception of on-shift exercise (p = 0.17). On-shift exercise perception was not related to exercise days/week or minutes/day (p > .60). CONCLUSIONS: The self-reported survey responses suggest southeastern United States firefighters meet exercise guidelines. Most report having exercise time/access to a variety of equipment options on-shift. Exercise habits may be impacted by equipment options, but not call volume or perception of on-shift exercise. This perception did not deter firefighters from exercising on-shift but may impact exercise intensity. It is worth noting that there is possible self-report and sampling bias that could have led to an overestimate of exercise habits.

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