“Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”
We have heard from plenty of firefighters who want a make positive changes in their fitness, but they have no idea where to begin. If you haven’t participated in a regular exercise regimen in a while, the task of getting fit for duty may seem daunting; but it doesn’t have to be so. This article will give you 4 easy-to-follow tips to help you get started on your journey towards becoming a functionally fit firefighter.
#1 – Start Small
One of the biggest fitness myths is that you must spend countless hours in the gym to make a positive impact on your health. However, something as easy as going on a 10-minute walk every day might be what the doctor ordered to get you on the path to success.
Every week, add 5 minutes to your daily walks. Once you feel up to another challenge, incorporate 1-minute intervals of light jogging into your walks. At first you may only jog a total of 5 minutes and walk for 25 minutes. But over time, you will gradually increase the jogging time so that it surpasses the walk time. Who knows, before long you will be able to run a 5K race!
Whatever you choose to do: Get up and get moving. Do something; do anything!
#2 – Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
You won’t get where you need to go if you don’t know where you want to go. In other words, you must set goals to stay on track and measure your progress. Consider the S.M.A.R.T. system of goal setting—make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
Here is an example of a S.M.A.R.T. fitness goal: “I will lose 10 pounds in 2 months by exercising 4 days per week, 30 minutes per session, and by drinking 3 liters of water per day.” This fitness goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
#3 – Stick to the Plan
One of the most respected and admired qualities of successful firefighters is their persistence. Once a firefighter sets their mind on a task, they are tenacious in making sure that it is successfully completed (almost to a fault). We must take the same approach with our weekly exercise regimens. If we decide to work out 3 times per week, we must stick to the plan. If this means squeezing in sporadic sets of 20 push-ups in between calls, then so be it.
Formulate a plan, and hold fast to it.
#4 – Make One Positive Change to your Nutrition Every Day
Fast food, pizza, junk food, soda, and sugary treats have become staples of many firefighters’ diets—and it shows. Let’s be honest, many of us can buy in to exercising more frequently, but we face an uphill battle when it comes to changing our nutritional habits.
We challenge you to make one positive change to your diet every day. Consider the following examples:
- For those who love soda and other sugary drinks, drink one less each day for a week. The following week, cut back an additional soda or energy drink.
- Replace french fries with a baked potato, sweet potato, or whole grain (i.e. – quinoa)
- Replace fast food breakfasts with something cooked at home or at the firehouse—oatmeal, eggs, fruit smoothie, etc.
- If it’s natural, fresh, and colorful, it is most likely good for you. Add more green to your dinner plate in the form of fresh vegetables.
Take your fitness and health to the next level with Firefighter Functional Fitness. Visit FirefighterFunctionalFitness.com to learn more.