Term of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Master of Science, Kinesiology - Exercise Science Concentration

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Department

Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Bridget Melton

Committee Member 1

Ronald Snarr

Committee Member 2

Greg Ryan

Abstract

Background: Worksite wellness programs are an excellent option to help promote health and wellness among employees. However, there is little research discussing these benefits among firefighters. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a wellness program to improve or maintain health and fitness metrics in rural, career firefighters over a 9-month period. Methods: Thirty-six firefighters from a department in southeast Georgia participated in this wellness program. All health and fitness metrics tested were recommended by the National Fire Protection Agency. The wellness program that took place over 9-months provided basic tools and knowledge regarding exercise and nutrition. Firefighters were separated into four groups based on their exercise adherence for data collection (Q1 = lowest, Q2 = low, Q3 = moderate, Q4 = highest). Results: For health metrics, there was no meaningful differences for the weight or body fat percentage for the entire group, but Q2 was the only group that weight change was larger than the smallest worthwhile change (SWC). Blood glucose for the entire group and all attendance quartiles showed meaningful difference. Q3 and Q4 for HDL and Q3 for LDL group mean differences were larger than the SWC signifying meaningful differences. For fitness metrics, VO2max did not show any meaningful differences for the entire group or attendance quartiles. There were meaningful differences with an increase of muscular strength via handgrip strength and leg press for the entire group and all attendance quartiles. Flexibility decreased for the entire group, and Q1 had the largest decrement based off SWC. Discussion: This program was successful in aiding in improvements and maintenance in many health and fitness metrics for rural firefighters. Conclusion: This occupation is different compared to many corporate and business settings, and it may take more time to get “buy-in” from the department to see how a wellness program impacts firefighters.

Research Data and Supplementary Material

Yes

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