Lighten Your Load to a Healthy Career

From the seasoned veteran to the brand new probie, ALL firefighters need to be fit. But just like the rest of America, we succumb to the daily temptation of overeating, and under exercising.

The process doesn't happen overnight, but if you put on five pounds a year for five or ten years, you're left with almost 50 pounds of excess body fat to lug around, along with your 60 pounds of firefighting gear.

This added weight can become a burden as you age. Do the math and you'll see that you are creating a situation which might be beyond what you can safely handle, increasing your risk of injury, or even worse, a possible cardiovascular incident.

So how do we as firefighters, who need to be fit and strong, rise to this challenge? Below you'll find a list of 10 steps you can take to forestall this process and keep you in great shape for your entire career and beyond.

1. Exercise 3 to 5 times weekly for about 30 minutes.

2. Take up a sport or hobby.
Play golf, join a softball league, go bowling. Pick something you enjoy, and as the saying goes, "just do it."

3. Leave the car at home.
Whenever you can, walk - to the stores, to work, taking the kids to school. The increased calories you burn every day will go a long way to keeping you lean.

4. Take the stairs.
Forget about elevators and escalators wherever and whenever you can. In addition to being a great calorie burner, stair climbing is a good way to tone the entire lower body.

5. Mow the lawn, shovel the snow, vacuum the house.
In other words, those house-hold chores your mom was always trying to get you to do turn out to be quite the calorie burners. Mowing the lawn alone burns a whopping 400 calories an hour.

6. Push away the plate when you're full.
Don't ever eat to just clean your plate. If you listen to your body, it will often tell you just how much food it needs. Slow down and pay attention.

7. Cut down on high calorie beverages and replace with water.
Drinking lots of soda, milk, and juices really pack on the calories. As firefighters we need to stay hydrated, and the best way to do that is to drink at least eight, 8 oz. glasses of water every day.

8. Cut back on butter, margarine, mayonnaise, as well as other high calorie spreads and dressings.
Replace with jellies, mustard, ketchup and low fat dressings.

9. Stay away from fried foods.
Americans are obsessed with everything fried. Grill the chicken, bake the potato, and poach the eggs, you'll eliminate a lot of unnecessary calories.

10.As the saying goes, "Everything in moderation."
You can still enjoy most of what you love to eat, just be conscious of serving sizes, and limit yourself when it comes to high-calorie treats.

If you follow the above ten steps you'll be well on your way to a long healthy career, and still fit into the dress uniform you wore at your probie-school graduation.

Related:

The Firefighter's Workout Book contains over 50 illustrated exercises and routines, including strength, aerobic and stretching programs for every level of fitness.

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