INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Better nutrition and fitness rank right up there with the latest firefighting technology.
In addition to displays of fire apparatus and technology and classes on latest techniques of attacking blazes, FDIC attendees are being exposed to a variety of issues about health, exercise and fitness.
"The demands of firefighting affect every component (of our bodies) including physical, mental and emotional," said Capt. Shawn Perry, exercise physiologist for the Sacramento, Calif. Fire Department.
The challenge, he said, is that firefighters must be ready to respond at a moment's notice for an undetermined amount of time.
Several hundred people turned out Thursday morning to hear Perry discuss the importance of proper diet and exercise. He said it's never too late to get fit, adding that changes in nutrition are the first step.
Among things he's found that affect American's weight include overeating, over caffeinating, poor sleep, smoking, little exercise, and alcohol and drugs.
"We are the fattest nation," he said, adding that the latest statistics show 72 million Americans are considered obese.
Perry encouraged firefighters to take the time to read the labels of the food they buy. "The biggest enemies are high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, energy drinks and inactivity."
He said the number of firefighter deaths due to cardiac issues would be reduced if people made the commitment to change their diets and get off the couch.
Often, he said, people who die on a call, while returning or after they get home were actually well on their way before hand. That's why it's also essential to take advantage of comprehensive health screenings.
Perry told them it's also possible to be healthy, but not fit. That's why it's important to establish an exercise routine that includes cardio activity.
In an effort to promote fitness, the first 5K Courage and Valor Run is being held Friday morning.
More than 300 people had registered to participate in the event slated to be held along the White River State Park.
Also, the National Volunteer Fire Council is conducting health screenings. Firefighters were ready to roll up their sleeves while the staff was setting up.