According to the study done by the NVFC (National Volunteer Fire Council) that firefighters have a higher percentage of obesity (73-88%) than the average American (33.8%).
Obesity is measure by BMI (Body Mass Index) To calculate BMI you can use this link http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm if your BMI is anything over 30 you are considered obese, and according to most health professionals are at risk for heart disease, certain cancers, etc.
The link tot he study is here :http://www.nvfc.org/files/documents/Obesity_Study.pdf So you can view it for yourself.
After reading it I do have a few thoughts.
1. BMI has some draw backs. On the BMI Calculator site (the link I posted above) even will tell you that BMI may overcalculate people with high muscle mass causing them to have a higher score, and it can undercalculate those with low muscle mass. I do not have to tell you the issue here, its pretty obvious.
2. This thing says I am overweight! No obese but overweight. This is hard to swallow as I have made SIGNIFICANT life changes in the past 2 years. I am not a big guy I am only 5foot9 and right now my weight fluctuates between 175 and 178, in order to get into a “normal” range I would have to get into the 160’s. Sure 2 years ago I was overweight I was 216lbs, scratch that I was not overweight I was FAT! So I changed I changed my eating habits, got in the gym and now 41lbs later I am planning on running the 2013 Disney World Marathon, and have completed 10k’s,5k’s,8’ks, and the Tough Mudder. Yet still according to this nationally recognized system I am still, well fat.
3. I do agree that there is a significant “health” issue in the fire service, far to many guys eat too much, and work out not enough. It is proven in the amount of health related LODD’s, injuries, and retirements we see every day.
4. Part of the problem is our lifestyle there have been several studies done to show the correlation of sleep deprivation to heart disease, well there is not to many people more sleep deprived than the American Firefighter. Further more the study done in Indianapolis proved that just the nature of our job causes our heart rate to go to the MAX (kinda like the pump cavitation) just at the dispatch of a call. Further more it showed that the anticipation of the alarm even at busy stations causes your sleep to not enter REM and prevents you from proper recovery. Here is the video link:
http://www.vententersearch.com/?p=361 Here is the link to the full study: http://www.indiana.edu/~firefit/pdf/Final%20Report.pdf
Also found in the study done by the University of Kansas states that firefighters are 300% more likely to contract a cardiovascular disease (heart attack, or stroke) based on uncommon factors such as the particulates in smoke. Add to all of that our poor eating habits and our sedentary lifestyles out side of work and it is a recipe for disaster!
So what is the solution? First and foremost we must change as a service, and as people. We must place an increased emphasis on fitness in order to not only be able to perform on the fireground but to survive our careers and enjoy our retirement. I have said it once and I will say again, I HATE WORKING OUT I get ZERO enjoyment from it, but I know to be the type of firefighter I want to be, and to perform the way I want to perform I have to push aside that hate and get in the gym. I also know that while I may want to eat 2 steaks at dinner one is more than enough. Simply put we have to change our habits, and adjust not only what we eat but how much we eat.
Some of you may not know where to begin so here are some helpful sites to assist you:
Additionally you can follow my workouts by following me on twitter @averagejakeff using the hashtag #fswfitness. This is just the tip of the iceberg folks, go out there and find a program that suits you and will get you to your optimum performance. It is not easy but neither is this job, if you do not want to do it for you then do it for your family, and the family of the guys you work with, no excuses just WORK!
As my buddy Rude Boy would say “Firefighters are athletes, TRAIN LIKE IT!”
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE