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Overweight and in Charge: examining exercise programming

Researchers in at southern Illinois University executed a simple fitness plan with Police officers to determine how effective it might be at getting the force into shape.

Police officers have a job which requires them to be moderately active, busy, and on the road. They have higher rates of mortality due to obesity and cardiovascular disease. By finding a successful method of getting the officers to exercise and incorporate better habits, their health can be drastically improved. This team of researchers from Southern Illinois University put into action a very minimalist exercise program to try out on police officers who were overweight. The objective was to determine the effects of a supervised job specific program lasting 6 months.

A total of 165 police officers were recruited. They consisted of 131 men and 34 women. They averaged 26 years of age and BMI's (body mass index) of 26, or overweight. Measures were taken at 3 time points: baseline, 6 months (completion of exercise period) and 12 months following the completion of the supervised program. The fitness measures included: body weight, BMI, cardiovascular fitness (VO2 max) and muscular fitness.

The exercise program consisted of 3 weekly sessions of cardio. It was light at just 60%max HR and lasted 20 minutes. This was increased to 30 minutes of 75%max HR at the 3 month mark. The resistance training consisted of 8 bodyweight exercises, including push ups, pull ups, dips, lunges, squats, 1 leg lifts, sit ups and back extensions. These were performed 3 times weekly, at 2 sets of 5 reps and then after the 3 month mark at 3 sets of 15 reps, 5 days per week.

At 6 months, the measures showed a decrease in BMI in all participants as well as a reduction in bodyweight as well as the time taken to complete an obstacle course of job related tasks. Unfortunately, the follow up session at 12 months showed a significant increase in all measures.

This study shows that while supervised training leads to success, it may be necessary for supervision to continue in the long run for sustained, long-term results.


Rossomanno, CI, Herrick, JE, Kirk, EP, 2012. "A 6-month supervised empoyer-based minimal exercise program for police officers improves fitness." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 26(9): 2338-2344.

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