Article Title



Arasta Wahab1, Mike Toczko1, Robert Lockie2, Shane Caswell1, Joel Martin1. 1George Mason University, Manassas, VA. 2California State University, Fullerton, CA.

BACKGROUND: The firefighter (FF) profession is demanding job that includes high-intensity physical work. As a result, maintaining appropriate levels of fitness are encouraged for FFs to perform occupational duties, prevent health issues and musculoskeletal injuries. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of age on fitness in a large cohort of professional FFs required to complete an annual fitness assessment. METHODS: Retrospective fitness assessment and body composition data was obtained from 1076 professional FFs (males=955, females=121) who completed an annual fitness assessment. The fitness assessment included maximum pull-ups, maximum push-ups, maximum curl-ups, and a 3-minute step test to estimate aerobic fitness. Fat mass percentage (FM%) was assessed using bioelectric impedance analysis. Participants were categorized into 4 age groups (20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 years). Analyses of variance and Tukey’s Post-hoc test were used to assess the effect of age on fitness measures. All statistics were conducted with R software and a significance level of p=0.05. RESULTS: A total of 170 (15.8%), 332 (30.9%), 357 (33.2%) and 217 (20.2%) FFs were in the 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 age groups, respectively. There was a significant difference between age groups for pull-ups (F(3,1072)=52.11, p<0.001, η2=0.13), curl-ups F(3,1072)=57.56, p <0.001, η2=0.14), push-ups (F(3,1072)=50.74, p<0.001, η2=0.12) and FM% F(3,1072)=22.82, p<0.001, η2=0.06). Post-hoc testing revealed that pull-ups, curl-ups and push-ups significantly (p<0.05) declined each decade except when comparing the 20-29 to 30-39 age groups. FM% was significantly worse (p<0.05) each decade except for the 40-49 compared to 50-59 year age group. There was no significant main effect for age on aerobic capacity (F(3,1072)=0.55, p=0.649, η2=0.001). CONCLUSION: The current findings indicate that muscular fitness and FM% generally declined with age while aerobic fitness was preserved in professional FF. Muscular fitness did not decline until FF were older than 40 years, while FM% increased in younger age groups then was unchanged after the age of 40. Fire departments implementing health and fitness programs could consider tailoring programs to prevent increases in FM% in younger FFs (<40 years) and maintaining muscular fitness in older FFs (>40 years).

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