Cardiorespiratory fitness of firefighters: initial results of a multi-phased study
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OBJECTIVE: To address which body composition (BC) measures best correlate with cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) in firefighters and develop a model for accurate CRF estimation compared with traditional methods. METHODS: Career firefighters had body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) measured in addition to body fat percentage (FM%) by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). CRF as maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) was estimated by rowing machine and measured by indirect calorimetry in a treadmill exercise test. RESULTS: Fifty two firefighters participated (92.3% men). Univariate correlations with BMI were best with WC. Univariate correlations with VO2max were best with FM%. Obesity classifications by BC measures agreed weakly at best. Multivariate analysis of several variables yielded an improved VO2max estimate (R2 = 0.70). CONCLUSIONS: Fire departments may benefit from more sophisticated measures of BC and CRF to evaluate firefighter fitness.
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