A recent study by scientists from Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health found that adherence to the MEDI-Lifestyle significantly reduced the risk of hypertension and improved aerobic capacity in America’s young firefighters.
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The study, which was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, suggested that introducing healthy lifestyle habits, including the Mediterranean diet, in fire training academies could help boost the benefits of firefighter’s physical training and improve their cardiovascular health.
Our results suggest that fire academy interventions designed to increase healthy lifestyle habits overall could add additional benefits to the physical fitness training traditionally provided in academy settings.
U.S. firefighters have been identified as being at high risk of cardiovascular disease and sudden cardiac death due to the strenuous nature of their work coupled with conventional risk factors, including obesity and high blood pressure.
The researchers believe that if this study was followed up with further research it could lead to the Mediterranean diet and other lifestyle changes being promoted as a beneficial new approach to better health in firefighting academies.
The study focused on almost 100 new recruits from two different firefighting training centers. The volunteers, who were mostly males with an average age of 25.6 years, were required to complete MEDI-Lifestyle questionnaires in order to assess their lifestyles.
Participants answered questions about their weight, sleep patterns, adherence to a Mediterranean diet, smoking habits, physical activity and number of hours spent watching television.
A point was awarded for each healthy characteristic and a score of between five and seven was considered to be good. Participants with the least healthy lifestyles achieved scores of between zero and two.
Higher scores were found to be linked to increased physical fitness and less body fat. It was also discovered that higher scoring recruits were less prone to hypertension and for every extra point scored the risk of hypertension fell by 36 percent.
A high MEDI-Lifestyle score also increased aerobic capacity. Every extra point scored was noted to double aerobic capacity. High levels of physical activity and plenty of sleep were also noted as contributing factors to better aerobic capacity.
“Our results suggest that fire academy interventions designed to increase healthy lifestyle habits overall could add additional benefits to the physical fitness training traditionally…