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FirefightersPhysical Activity and Waist Circumference as Predictors of

Barry, Allison M. PhD; Lyman, Katie J. PhD; Dicks, Nathan D. PhD; Landin, Kassiann D. MS; McGeorge, Christi R. PhD; Hackney, Kyle J. PhD; Walch, Tanis J. PhD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2019 - Volume 61 - Issue 10 - p 849–853
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001690

Objective: To examine associations among objectively measured physical activity (PA), body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) in firefighters.

Methods: Career firefighters (n = 29; male = 100%) wore accelerometers to assess PA. BMI and WC classified obesity. Each participant completed a stage-graded exercise test to determine maximal oxygen uptake (


Results: Two linear regression models were used to investigate whether PA intensities, step count, BMI, or WC were predictive of “true”

. Vigorous physical activity (VPA) was predictive of “true”

(F[1,27] = 7.89, R2 = 0.23, P < 0.01). Additionally, when BMI and WC were added, only WC was predictive of “true”

(F[1,27] = 11.76, R2 = 0.30, P < 0.01).

Conclusion: Fire departments should be cognizent of ways to increase PA levels, decrease excess weight gain, and maintain CRF to adequately perform job-specific tasks.

Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas (Dr Barry); Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences (Dr Barry, Dr Lyman, Dr Dicks, Ms Landin, Dr Hackney); Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Exercise Science, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota (Dr Dicks); Department of Human Development and Family Science (Dr McGeorge), North Dakota State University, Fargo; Department of Education, Health, and Behavior Studies, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks (Dr Walch), North Dakota.

Address correspondence to: Allison M. Barry, PhD, Health, Human Performance, and Recreation, Pittsburg State University, 1701 S Broadway, Pittsburg, KS 66762 (

Sources of Funding: The Innovative Student Research Award from the Northland Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine supported this work.

Conflict of Interest: None declared.

Clinical Significance: Firefighters attained roughly 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and 17% were classified as obese; thus, increasing vigorous physical activity and decreasing waist circumference should be emphasized to improve cardiorespiratory fitness. An emphasis to increase physical activity for firefighters should be highlighted as a key factor for increasing overall health.

Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine