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Lifestyle Factors Predicting Changes in Aerobic Capacity of Aging Firefighters at 3- and 13-Year Follow-Ups

Punakallio, Anne PhD; Lindholm, Harri MD; Luukkonen, Ritva PhD; Lusa, Sirpa PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 9 - p 1133–1141
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182554b11
Original Articles

Objective: To describe changes in aging firefighters' aerobic capacity at 3- and 13-year follow-ups, and to investigate the lifestyle factors predicting them. We evaluated the sufficiency of aerobic capacity for the demands of rescue diving.

Methods: We studied 78 male Finnish firefighters aged 30 to 44 years at baseline. The outcome variable was aerobic capacity (L·min−1 and mL·kg−1·min−1). The predictors were exercise, smoking, and drinking habits.

Results: The average annual change (range) in absolute and relative aerobic capacity was −1.12% (−3.43 to 1.39) and −1.33% (−3.98 to 1.63). Exercising at least 4 to 5 times a week was the best protective factor, and regular smoking and more than 15 units of alcohol a week were risk factors for decline in aerobic capacity.

Conclusions: To prevent the excessive decline of aerobic capacity related to work demands, we must pay particular attention to exercise regularity.

From the Physical Work Capacity Team (Drs Punakallio, Lindholm, and Lusa) and Statistical Services Team (Dr Luukkonen), Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.

Address correspondence to: Anne Punakallio, PhD, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, 00250 Helsinki, Finland (

The Fire Protection Fund of Finland provided the financial support for this study. The funding source had no involvement in the manuscript and the content is solely the responsibility of the authors.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Copyright © 2012 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine