Why Fitness Really Matters
I have been around this job for a long time. During this time, I have heard numerous discussions, read countless articles and attended more training classes than I care to remember, all on the topic of fitness for law enforcement. It should go without saying that fitness plays an important part in the life and career of today’s modern law enforcement officer. There are many reasons why this is true and here are just a few.
Physically fit officers are far more confident in their ability to physically perform any and all tasks that the demanding job of law enforcement may throw at them. This includes simple things like getting in and out of a patrol car numerous times during a shift to more complex activities such as physically controlling resistive behavior. Officers who lack a functional level of physical fitness will also lack confidence when their physical fitness level is tested on duty. This leads to poor decision making, injuries and excessive force claims, just to name a few of the negative things that can happen.
Have you ever noticed that the better you feel physically, the better you feel mentally? Ask someone you know who may have been overweight, feeling bad about themselves and then decided to do something about it. That same someone became motivated, changed their lifestyle – eating habits, sleeping habits, etc. – and see what that person tells you about their overall attitude about life before and after. Let me give you a hint, the attitudes will be total opposites. Bottom line – the better you feel about yourself the better you will feel about everything else. Who would not want that attitude within their police officers?
I can still remember how goofy I used to think the old Kentucky State Police motto used to sound. LOOK GOOD, FEEL GOOD, BE GOOD!! Whoever came up with that back in the day probably had no idea how close to reality they were with that statement. I can honestly say now that I was absolutely wrong thinking those words were just that, words. It really is sort of an elementary, fat pencil, wide-line paper way of summing up fitness and law enforcement.
I have listed a few reasons and there are obviously many more that I don’t have the time to dig into with this column, so I am going to reveal the most important reason to maintain your physical fitness throughout your career.
Why would anyone put themselves through 20, 30 or 40 years of this profession and then have nothing physically left in the tank to enjoy what retirement is like? I do not believe anyone knowingly would. I believe this creeps up on people and before they realize it something bad happens. The only way to prevent this is to see your doctor! I don’t care what kind of shape you appear to be in on the outside, because what really matters is the inside. I have seen far too many of our law enforcement family fall victim to heart disease over the years. According to the American Heart Association, “someone dies from heart disease, stroke or another cardiovascular disease every 43 seconds in this country.”
My personal doctor informed me that heart disease claims more lives than cancer and all other diseases combined. He might have been trying to scare me with that statistic and he was successful. There is also a new definition of high blood pressure that everyone should be familiar with. The old standard was that if the top number was 140 or higher and the bottom number was 90 or higher that was considered to be high. The new numbers are 130 over 80, which means that roughly 46 percent of the population will be considered as having high blood pressure. At the end of the day, be there for your retirement with both the physical and mental capacity to enjoy it. This job forces us to miss out on too many precious moments. Don’t miss out on anymore because you didn’t take care of yourself. It’s never too late to start taking better care of yourself. Step one is making regular visits to your doctor so you can work on prevention instead of treatment. God bless each of you and your families, stay safe!