February 19, 2014
Even Police Officers Should Be Concerned About Sedentary Lifestyle
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Researchers measured physical activity in police, which is a career that is looked at by the public as being generally active. The findings revealed that police officers burn as much energy on the job as someone sitting while holding a baby or washing dishes.
“We find that police work is primarily sedentary,” Sandra Ramey, assistant professor in the University of Iowa College of Nursing, told IowaNow's Richard C. Lewis. “The public view, how the media portray it on shows like ‘Hawaii Five-0,’ it’s just go, go, go – it’s an intense, high-activity profession. But it’s not. It’s more like bursts of energy, with long periods of little activity.”
Ramey, author of the study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, said the team’s findings are important because workers are increasingly being put in sedentary settings.
“The police are not alone, in that most jobs are associated with using higher technology at the expense of physical activity in the workplace. And, so what it means is that other occupations, like police, should increase movement on the job,” she said.
According to a 2005 study published in the journal Annual Review of Public Health, four in 10 American employees in 2000 worked in low physical-activity occupations, double the percentage of 50 years ago. The National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion found that 25 percent of US adults do not exercise in their leisure time.
A lack of physical activity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the US. Being able to inspire the US community to rise up from a sedentary job and add a little exercise could put a damper in the $76 billion cardiovascular disease costs the US economy each year.
The researchers measured physical activity in 119 police officers in six departments in the Midwest and Hawaii. During the study, the police officers were asked to wear armbands that measured activity continuously for 96 hours, including three work days and one day off.
On average, the team found that police officers expended 1.6 metabolic equivalents per minute of energy during their shifts, which is about the equivalent of washing dishes while standing or reclining and holding a baby.
“In other words, the physical demands of police work are generally comparable to sitting or standing,” the team wrote in the journal.
The researchers discovered that high-ranking officers moved even less than their counterparts, and university police were even more active.
“The take-home message is police officers are in a sedentary profession, and we now have something beyond self-report that shows that,” Ramey says. “We need to encourage movement.”