Sarah N. Lanham1, Jamal L. Thruston1, Emily L. Langford2, Alyssa Q. Eastman3, Jackson B. Miller1, Lauren T. Higginbotham2, Luis Monteiro4, Vanessa Santos5, Bridget Melton6, Mark G. Abel1. 1University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. 2University of Montevallo, Montevallo, AL. 3Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. 4Lusofona University, Lisbon, Portugal. 5ICPOL Research Center, Higher Institute of Police Sciences and Internal Security, Lisbon, Portugal. 6Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA.

BACKGROUND: Regular participation in exercise is critical to enhance occupational readiness and decrease risk of sudden cardiac events among firefighters. Age is associated with decreased occupational performance and risk of cardiac event due to decreased cardiorespiratory fitness, however, this decline may be attenuated with exercise participation. There is a lack of research evaluating the influence of age on firefighters’ exercise behaviors. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to determine if age relates to the proportion of firefighters meeting American College of Sports Medicine physical activity (PA) guidelines and reported endurance (ET) and resistance training (RT) loads. METHODS: A convenience sample of 126 (118 male, 7 female, 1 not provided; Age: 40.4±9.3 yr) career structural firefighters volunteered to complete an anonymous online survey describing the typical ET and RT frequency, duration, and perceived intensity. Session training load (SL) was calculated as: Session duration x rating of perceived exertion (0-10 category-ratio scale). Weekly training load (WL) was calculated as: SL x weekly training frequency. Achieving PA guidelines equated to performing ≥2 RT sessions per week and ≥75 vigorous or ≥150 moderate intensity minutes of ET per week. Age was stratified into quartiles. Cross-tabulation analyses examined the age-stratified proportion of firefighters meeting PA guidelines for ET and RT independently and collectively. The effects of age on SL and WL for RT and ET were determined via one-way ANOVA. Significance was set at p<0.05. RESULTS: 23% of firefighters met global PA guidelines, 39% of firefighters met RT, and 34% met ET guidelines. Age strata was not associated with status of meeting the PA guidelines for ET (n=122, χ2=0.48, p=0.923), RT (n=124, χ2=0.97, p=0.808), or global guidelines (n=122, χ2=1.76, p=0.625). There were no differences between age strata for SL (ET: n=97, 159±133 AU, p=0.961, η2=0.003; RT: n=81, 230±178 AU, p=0.500, η2=0.031) or WL (ET: n=97, 490±562 AU, p=0.953, η2=0.004; RT: n=81, 871±989 AU, p=0.450, η2= 0.034). CONCLUSIONS: Age was not related to achievement of PA guidelines and the majority of firefighters were not meeting ACSM PA guidelines due to a lack of ET. Therefore, fire department PA initiatives should facilitate participation in ET throughout the career span.

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