Police officers and members of law enforcement have one of the most physically and mentally demanding professions in existence. It is for this reason that the overall health of first responders is of the utmost importance. Improved mental and physical health not only ensures a reduction of work related injuries, but also has been proven to reduce the number of excessive force claims while on the job.
Luckily, there is a comprehensive way for members of law enforcement to easily improve multiple aspects of their health. A simple workout routine that includes plenty of cardiovascular exercise has surprising benefits that surpass just physical changes.
This may seem like a given, but maintaining your cardiovascular health is key for a variety of reasons. Aside from obvious benefits like increasing muscle tone and endurance, regular cardio reduces blood pressure, increases good cholesterol while lowering bad cholesterol levels, and increases insulin sensitivity, putting your body at a lower risk for a host of medical issues.
Consistent exercise improves heart health and reduces the risk of dangerous health issues popping up later in life. Members of law enforcement are already at an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, so any steps to reduce these factors are crucial.
Cardiovascular activity does more than just improve your physical wellbeing – it also greatly effects your overall mental health. Studies from Harvard Medical School prove that regular exercise of moderate intensity can positively impact the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex, which are areas of the brain that control memory and thinking abilities. Working in law enforcement means judgement calls and accurate memories are crucial, so increasing these area of the brain will surely benefit workplace performance and safety.
Aerobic exercise also has indirect effects that can lead to increased health in other cognitive areas. Even low to moderate intensity workouts produce chemicals in the brain that account for the formation of new brain cells. Similarly, a consistent exercise routine can also lead to a consistent and reliable sleep routine. Adequate sleep has been long proven to lower anxiety and lead to increased cognitive functioning while awake.
Bone and Joint Health
It may seem surprising, but cardiovascular exercise also greatly benefits bone and joint health. Weight-bearing aerobic activities have been proven to slow the loss of precious minerals within the bones of your spine, hips, and legs. It can also slow the effects of osteoporosis on the bones, especially in women.
If high-impact physical activity is a bodily concern, low-impact cardiovascular activities such as swimming or elliptical work are still highly beneficial and for bones and joints alike. These types of activities not only properly lubricate joints, but also strengthen muscles around your joints, ensuring they are maintained. People typically believe that activities like running or stair climbing can be detrimental to bone and joint health, however this is only true in excess. Creating a personalized workout routine based on your body and needs is key when it comes to your overall health.