Improving your physical fitness will require some self-discipline and efficient use of your spare time, as an effective exercise routine needs to be completed on a regular basis.
In order to improve your physical fitness, you will need to alter the frequency, intensity, and duration of your exercise above your current level. Your training should be gradual and progressive. You should start small and then build up the intensity over time. This will produce an improvement in your fitness by placing greater demands on your body. In general, the less exercise you perform the less improvement, and the more exercise you perform the greater the fitness improvement.
Whilst certain exercises are more specific to fire-fighting tasks, a well-rounded training programme, which includes aerobic, resistance and flexibility exercises, is recommended. This will improve and maintain the muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility of the major muscle groups.
Although age in itself is not a limiting factor to fitness training, it is sensible for older people to follow a more gradual approach.
General exercise guidance
Good exercise training advice is highly specific to the individual. It should be understood, therefore, that the advice provided here can only be general and generic in nature. If you require further information, you are advised to seek individual advice, specific to your needs, from a qualified fitness professional.
The role of a firefighter can be physically demanding. Firefighters are required to be aerobically fit, have good all-round body strength and stamina. As a result, the entry selection tests are designed to reflect the actual physical tasks that Firefighters are required to perform.
If you are in any doubt about your health or physical ability to exercise, consult your doctor before you commence physical activity. This is especially important if you are pregnant (or think you may be), have not exercised for the last six months or had a recent illness or injury.
Always warm up before commencing any exercise. Wear the correct clothing and footwear; do not train if you are unwell or injured.
Preparing for exercise (warm-up)
Performing a warm-up prepares the body for the activity about to be undertaken. The length of time needed to warm up correctly depends on many factors; however, you should allow at least 10 minutes for this very important activity. In order to reduce the risk of injury in the warm-up period, a number of steps should be followed:
- Be specific: Make sure your warm-up session is geared towards the activity that you intend to perform. For example, for cardiovascular workouts, such as running, start with a brisk walk leading into a light jog. For weight training, it is important to warm up the particular joints and muscles that are involved in the resistance exercise. This will increase blood flow to those muscles and activate the nervous system, prior to any additional stress being placed on them.
- Start slowly: At the start of your workout your muscles will be relatively cold. Start exercising slowly and build up the intensity throughout the warm-up period. This will increase your muscle temperature steadily and keep the risk of injury to a minimum.
- Keep warm: If you are exercising in a cold environment, wear additional clothing during the warm-up period and try not to stand still for too long.
- Stretching: For many years it was thought that stretching immediately prior to exercise would prevent injuries. However, new research suggests that this may not prevent muscle or tendon injury. Any form of flexibility or stretching activity should be performed following a warm-up period or an exercise session.