Comparison of Canadian firefighters and healthy controls based on submaximal fitness testing and strength considering age and gender
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INTRODUCTION: Few studies have addressed whether firefighters are fitter than the general population and possess sufficient levels of aerobic capacity and muscle strength to perform on-duty tasks in a safe and efficient manner, considering age and gender. We aimed to evaluate the fitness levels of Hamilton firefighters, and to determine the effects of age and gender. METHODS: In total, 89 participants were recruited. The modified Canadian aerobic fitness test was used to determine participants' estimated maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) levels. For upper and lower body strength levels, a calibrated J-Tech hand-held dynamometer and a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lifting device was used respectively. RESULTS: Firefighters' mean (SD) VO2max level was 40.30 ± 6.25 ml·kg-1·min-1. Age proved to have a statistically significant impact on VO2max (p < 0.001). Gender displayed statistically significant effects on strength levels. Firefighters' age was the only statistically significant independent variable, and accounted for 61.00% of the variance in firefighters' aerobic capacity levels. CONCLUSIONS: Firefighters possessed somewhat similar aerobic capacities but much higher levels of body strength when compared with the general population. With age, firefighters' aerobic capacities decreased; however, their upper and lower body strength levels remained the same.
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