Tanya Miller, Brian Tyo, Clayton Nicks, Kate Early. Columbus State University, Columbus, GA.

BACKGROUND: Firefighters and police officers are emergency responders who perform divergent occupational tasks that require above-average physical capabilities. Each are also at high cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. The purpose of this study was to compare CVD risk factors and fitness characteristics between the occupations. METHODS: Seventeen police officers (11 men) and 15 firefighters (13 men) participated in two separate laboratory sessions. At the first visit, participants conducted a lipid and blood glucose analysis, resting heart rate and blood pressure, body composition analysis, and a Wingate anaerobic cycling test. The second visit consisted of a treadmill maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) test. RESULTS: Firefighters (age: 38.8±7.9y, experience: 13.8±7.8y) and police officers (age: 39.0±10.6y, experience: 13.3±8.9y) had similar experience and rank in the respective departments. Compared with police officers, firefighters had greater total body mass (p=.01), lean mass (p<.001), bone mineral density (p=.007), and diastolic blood pressure (p=.008). No other differences in lipids or blood glucose were observed (p>0.05). Firefighters also had a higher relative peak (7.1±1.6W/kg vs. 5.9±1.5W/kg, p=.04) and mean power (523±137W vs. 371±118W, p=.002), and maximal absolute VO2max (3.2±0.6L/min vs. 2.3±0.8L/min, p=.005) compared to police officers. Relative VO2max was similar in firefighters (35.6±6.5mL/kg/min) and police officers (30.1±9.9mL/kg/min CONCLUSIONS: Firefighters were significantly heavier, with greater lean mass and bone mineral density, which may lead to misclassification of obesity in this population. Anaerobic capacity was greater in firefighters, which may be a result of training for fitness challenges and occupational tasks like hose carry or stair climbing. The differences in the VO2max test are likely due to different body weights between the occupations but was lower than current recommendations for the occupations. More exercise training may benefit this population to improve aerobic capacity and cardiovascular risk factors.

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