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To a healthy Firefighter career and beyond

From the most seasoned veteran, to the wet-behind-the-ears probie, ALL firefighters need to be fit. But just like the rest of America, we succumb to the daily temptation of overeating and under exercising. The process doesn't happen overnight, but if you put on five pounds a year for five or ten years, you're left with 25 to 50 pounds of excess body fat to lug around. Combine this with your already heavy load of 60 pounds of fire fighting gear, not to mention the extremes of temperature and oxygen deficient environment you're forced to operate in. You can easily see how you're creating a situation which might go beyond that which you can safely handle, increasing your risk of injury, or even worse, a possible cardiovascular incident.

So how do we as firefighters, who must be fit and strong, rise to this challenge? Below you'll find a list of 10 steps you can take to forestall this process and keep you in great shape for your entire career and beyond.
1. Exercise 3 to 5 times weekly for about 30 minutes. There's no skipping step one. Put together a program that combines some cardio, strength, and flexibility training for optimum results.
2. Take up a sport or hobby. Play golf, join a softball league, go bowling. Pick something you enjoy, and like Nike says, "just do it."
3. Leave the car at home. Whenever you can, walk – to the stores, to work, taking the kids to school. The increased calories you burn every day will go a long way to
keeping you lean.
4. Take the stairs. Forget about elevators and escalators wherever and whenever you can. In addition to being a great calorie burner, stair climbing is a good way to tone the entire lower body.
5. Mow the lawn, vacuum the house. All those house-hold chores do turn out to be quite the calorie burners. Mowing the lawn alone uses up a whopping 400 calories an hour.
6. Push away the plate when you're full. Don't ever eat to just clean your plate. If you listen to your body, it will often tell you just how much food it needs. Slow down!
7. Reduce intake of high-cal beverages, replace with water. Drinking lots of soda, milk, and juices really pack on the calories. As firefighters we need to stay hydrated, and the best way to do that is to drink at least eight, 8 oz. glasses of water every day.
8. Cut back on butter, margarine, mayonnaise, and the like. There's a lot of hidden calories in here. Replace with jellies, mustard, ketchup, and low-fat dressings.
9. Stay away from fried foods. Americans are obsessed with everything fried. Grill the chicken, bake the potato, and poach the eggs, you'll eliminate a lot of unnecessary
calories.
10. As the saying goes, "Everything in moderation." You can still enjoy most of what you love to eat, just be conscious of serving sizes, and limit yourself when it comes to high-calorie treats.

Courtesy of Michael Stefano, New York City fire captain and author of The Firefighter's Workout Book We site: www.firefightersworkout.com

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