Effectiveness of Participation in FD Fitness Program

Technical BulletinLast updated Monday, July 11, 2011
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The problem was that the Metro West Fire Protection District did not have a method to measure the effectiveness of participation in its fitness program. The study purpose was to identify methods that measure effectiveness of participation. Descriptive research was used to answer the research questions: (a) What do other public safety agencies use to measure the effectiveness of their fitness programs? (b) What do medical personnel specializing in the field of exercise physiology view as indicators of effectiveness? (c) What do other public safety agencies that have a fitness program see as barriers to effectiveness? (d) What do other non-public safety organizations that have a fitness program use to measure effectiveness? A literature review, surveys, and record data analysis showed that the majority of surveyed agencies use some type of fitness testing to measure successful participation.The medical field sees weight, strength, and aerobic capacity as indicators of success. Many of the barriers that prevent success in a program can be related directly to funding and lack of accountability for participation. Other measures of success included reduction in injuries, decreases in insurance premiums, and increases in productivity through a decline in sick leave. Recommendations for the Metro West program included a policy for mandatory participation and enforcement, and a testing procedure that measures body weight, body mass index, body fat percentage, core muscle strength, flexibility, and aerobic capacity through maximal venous oxygen uptake. Increased use of peer fitness trainers and continual monitoring of data collection and program progress were also recommended for improvement.Data mining for a causal relationship between participation and a reduction in injuries and better health would likely benefit future modifications to the program.

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