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Firefighter Wellness

Firefighter health and well being is just as important as "calls for service" and training.  The healthier we are, the more fit and capable we will be when called for duty.  It is important for us to maintain a healthy lifestyle, not only for ourselves and family, but for those in the community that we serve. 

 


May 17, 2006

from IAFF

Welcome to Fit to Survive, your source for a healthier life, brought to you by IAFF’s Fire Service Joint Labor Management Wellness/Fitness Initiative. You’ll find expert advice and practical information on staying fit and healthy, as well as recipes and nutrition tips to make your next firehouse meal wholesome and delicious.

http://www.foodfit.com/iaff/


May 17, 2006

from IAFF

Are you at your ideal weight? What activities can burn unwanted calories? Our Healthy Weight Calculator helps you pinpoint your best weight and how to get there, or stay there, while doing the activities you enjoy most.

http://www.foodfit.com/iaff/w8calc.asp


May 17, 2006

from IAFF

Our Burner Calculator tells you how many calories you use in a given time when you do one of 40-plus activities shown. Just enter your weight, the length of your workout and your chosen activity--our stopwatch will do the rest.

http://www.foodfit.com/iaff/burner/


May 17, 2006
from IAFF

Water has been called a "miracle fluid" and for good reason. No other substance does so much for us at so little cost. Christine Palumbo, RD, a FoodFit nutritionist, explains.

Water Works

Water plays a role in nearly every body function. It regulates body temperature, assists in digestion, carries nutrients to body cells, and helps in elimination of waste products. It may also assist in weight control.

Benefits — Now and Later

People who up their intake report immediate benefits. According to Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, author of Power Eating, staying well hydrated prevents "fatigue, headache, burning dry eyes, burning in the stomach, dry mouth, loss of concentration, reduced mental and physical capacity, and poor heat acclimation."

But the benefits don't end there. Over time, well-hydrated people suffer less colon, urinary tract and breast cancer, kidney stones, constipation and mitral valve prolapse.

Eight Glasses a Day?

Just how much do you need? We've all heard eight glasses, but is that true for all? One simple rule of thumb is this: Divide your weight in pounds by two. That's the minimum number of ounces your body needs. If you exercise, you need more. Take your weight and multiply by 2/3 to get the number of ounces. Your specific needs may differ.

Dry environments, like airplanes and shopping malls, heated office buildings and hospitals all increase your need for water, as do hot, humid or cold weather.

Tracking Thirst

Don't rely on thirst to indicate your fluid needs. It's actually a symptom of dehydration. It's best to drink before you're thirsty. And waiting until you're thirsty is an especially bad idea when you're over fifty. That's because our thirst mechanism becomes blunted as we age. And everyone should have a water plan, just like a food plan.

Try these little rituals and see your water consumption rise:

  • Develop a "hydration" habit — a glass of water when you wake up, one at each meal and one an hour before bedtime.
  • Drink a glass every hour on the hour while working during the day.
  • Drink two glasses at each meal, one before and one after. You may find you don't eat as much!

One of the best indicators of adequate hydration is frequent urination and urine that's pale in color. However, taking vitamin supplements may color your urine. In that case, let volume guide you.

Water Robbers

All fluids are not created equal. That's because beverages containing caffeine or alcohol actually remove water from the body. The worst offender is alcohol.

Jul 17, 2006

By The American Institute for Cancer Research

The obesity epidemic is one of the most serious health problems facing America. If you’re overweight, you have an increased risk for chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Approximately 14 percent of cancer deaths among men and 20 percent among women are related to excess weight.

The growth in food portions has long been considered one reason for the rising number of obese and overweight people. In 1955, a single order of French fries weighed 2.4 ounces. Today, an average single serving is 7.1 ounces – nearly a 200 percent increase. Portions of other foods, like pasta, soft drinks, cereal, beer and coffee, have also increased dramatically in the last five years.

But until three years ago, health experts could only make educated guesses that portion size influenced weight gain. For example, in 1999 the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) compared the size of American bagels, croissants and quesadillas to their native counterparts in Poland, France and Mexico. Alarmed, AICR pointed out that the American versions had ballooned in size, weight and calorie content.

Bigger Portions Do Cause Overeating

But now research results are rolling in. Bigger portion sizes have been shown to encourage overeating by as much as 56 percent.

In one study, volunteers were served different-size submarine sandwiches on four different days: 6-inch, 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch. When served the 12-inch sandwich compared to the 6-inch, women ate 31 percent more calories and men ate 56 percent more. People ate more because they had more to eat, not because they were hungrier.

Another study showed that a larger than usual snack doesn’t prompt people to cut back later. When volunteers were served a larger bag of potato chips as an afternoon snack, women ate 18 percent more calories and men ate 37 percent more. When dinner was served several hours later, both women and men ate their usual amount.

Downsize Your Servings

To control your portion size and prevent overeating, first recognize you should eat only as much as your activity levels require. To do this, it may help to see how your regular portions compare to USDA standard servings.

Pour out your regular portion of hot cereal into a bowl. Into another bowl, pour one-half cup. That is the USDA standard serving. Compare the two. If you jog four miles a day, you might need all the energy your regular portion supplies. But if you seldom exercise and are putting on weight, you should consider cutting back little by little. A list of USDA serving sizes can be found online at www.aicr.org/publications/nap/napaids.lasso.

To control portion sizes at restaurants, order half-sizes or the smallest size, or share an entrée. Another option is to place half of your meal into a doggie bag before you start eating and take it home.


Jun 23, 2006
from IAFF

Heat stress is an increase in human body temperature and metabolism caused by physical exertion and/or a heated environment which can lead to exhaustion, mental confusion, disorientation, dehydration, loss of consciousness, heart attack, stroke and other fatal illnesses.

Heat stress results from internal, metabolic heat buildup (from working in bunker gear, for example) and external stress related to environmental factors, such as personal protective equipment. As the core temperature rises, so does the risk of heat stress. Performing strenuous tasks in the heated environment of a fire scene or in warm or humid weather can also increase the risks of heat stress.

Simple preventative measures can be taken to avoid heat injuries, including drinking fluids frequently throughout the day to stay well-hydrated and wearing a single layer of porous cotton under protective gear to keep the least amount of heat from becoming trapped near the body.

Becoming Acclimated

The rate at which people sweat is determined not only by genetics, but by hydration, state of acclimation and aerobic fitness. You can’t sweat if your body doesn’t have enough water. In order to maintain normal body function, fire fighters must replace fluid as soon as possible.

Acclimation is a physiological adaptation that the human body makes with repeated exposures to heat stress during exercise. It increases our rate of sweat production and shortens the time it takes for the sweating response to start and conserves sodium. Regular and sustained aerobic exercise can help with acclimation. Fire fighters who maintain an adequate level of fitness will have reduced cardiovascular strain and lower core temperature for the same level of heat stress. Fit fire fighters also tend to have reduced levels of body fat – and aren’t carrying extra non-functional weight. Therefore, less energy is required by a fit person to do the same job as a less-fit person.

It is important for fire fighters to acclimate themselves to heat and know how to prepare for the summer weather. If sweat cannot evaporate, it doesn’t matter how fit, how acclimated or how hydrated you are -- thermo-regulation will be compromised. In addition, it is essential that fire fighters are aware of the signs and symptoms of heat stress in order to detect it early and take the appropriate measures.

Heat Stress Symptoms

At first sign of symptoms, fire fighters should notify the officer in charge and immediately: institute work/rest cycles; keep cool and avoid radiant heat; drink small amounts of the appropriate fluids; avoid coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages; and use water spray bottles, fans and damp towels.

Some predisposing factors to heat stress include sustained exertion in the heat by unacclimatized workers; lack of physical fitness and/or obesity; recent alcohol intake; dehydration; individual susceptibility; chronic cardiovascular disease; and failure to replace water lost in sweat.

To prevent heat stress, follow these guidelines:
  • Provide medical screening of fire fighters.
  • Acclimatize for five to seven days by graded work and heat exposure, monitoring workers during sustained work in severe heat.
  • Drinking ample water frequently throughout the work day.
  • Ensure adequate salt intake with meals and supplement salt intake at meals for unacclimatized fire fighters.
  • Provide cool sleeping quarters to allow skin to dry between heat exposures.
Fire fighters also need rehabilitation to ensure they can safety return to active duty following a work rotation. Measure the heart rate on each emergency responder (this can be measured by the worker himself) at the end of the work period. An effective rehabilitation program must include:

  • Rest: a “time-out” to help fire fighters stabilize vital signs.
  • Rehydration: replacing lost fluids/plasma volume.
  • Restoration of core temperature through “active cooling” (warming).
  • Medical monitoring and treatment.
  • Relief from extreme climatic conditions (heat, cold, wind, rain).
  • Refueling of calories and electrolytes.



Page Last Updated: May 17, 2006 (14:19:00)
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