The benefits of regular exercise are irrefutable. Those who exercise report 43% fewer poor mental health days and fewer PTSD symptoms. Regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of at least 13 cancers and improves the fitness and overall quality of life for people living with cancer. Exercise can significantly reduce pain symptoms associated with arthritis, combat the ill effects of obesity, and help with the management of type 2 diabetes. And regardless of the type or intensity, exercise can increase sleep quality and duration and improve health-related quality of life.
Unfortunately, despite the overwhelming evidence in support of regular exercise, many firefighters are not meeting the weekly physical activity guidelines as recommended by the World Health Organization. The IGNITE program is committed to helping firefighters’ change their physical activity habits so they can enjoy the things they love as long as they want to enjoy them!
4 reasons commonly cited for not being active enough.
- Attitude towards exercise. Many fire fighters do not enjoy exercise and associate the act of running, for example, as a form of “punishment”.
- Perception of exercise. Exercise can be many things to many people. Fire fighters may associate exercise with a specific type of physical activity they do not find enjoyable or rewarding.
- Confidence in abilities. Fire fighters who lack self-confidence may be reluctant to try new things or be active in the presence of others.
- Support from community. We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. If those people closest to us do not value exercise or do not support our efforts to be active, we are unlikely to be active.
4 Tips to help fire fighters be more active.
- Make exercise more accessible! Explore options to be physically active both on and off the job.
- Make exercise more inclusive! Explore diverse options that involve new surroundings with others who have different interests and experiences.
- Make exercise more fun! Explore team challenges and cooperative games strategies to engage more people.
- Make exercise more meaningful! Reflect on the relevance to what is most important in your life – what are you exercising for OR what would you be willing to exercise for?