Age-Related Decline in Cardiorespiratory Fitness among Career Firefighters: Modification by Physical Activity and Adiposity
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CitationBaur, Dorothee M., Costas A. Christophi, E. Francis Cook, and Stefanos N. Kales. 2012. Age-related decline in cardiorespiratory fitness among career firefighters: Modification by physical activity and adiposity. Journal of Obesity 2012:710903.
AbstractFirefighting is a very hazardous occupation, and strenuous fire duties require high levels of physical fitness. In the general adult population, cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) declines with aging. We sought to investigate the effect of increasing age on CRF in male career firefighters as well as the modifying effects of physical activity and adiposity. We cross-sectionally examined 804 male career firefighters from two Midwestern states. CRF was determined from symptom-limited maximal treadmill exercise testing in metabolic equivalents (METS) following the Bruce protocol. Physical activity self-reports were extracted from responses to a health and lifestyle questionnaire. We found as expected that CRF declines with advancing age; however, the decline is greatly attenuated among leaner firefighters who report more physical activity. Furthermore, in a linear regression model including age, BMI, and variables describing physical activity behaviors, we could predict CRF (R\(^2\) = 0.6286). The total weekly duration of aerobic exercise as well as the duration of weight lifting sessions both had significant impacts on age-related decline. We conclude that firefighters are more likely to maintain the high levels of CRF needed to safely perform their duties if they engage in frequent exercise and maintain healthy weights.
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