By Ahrar “Sid” Siddiqui, Supervisor, Arlington County (VA) Emergency Communications Center, IPSA Fitness/Wellness Committee Member
Wellness is defined as the state of being in good health, and strength training is a critical component of getting in good health. Whether you work in law enforcement, the fire service, 911 telecommunications or other public safety related discipline, there is a clear need to be in good health. There are obvious physical benefits to reap from a balanced program, such as increased strength and flexibility, but also many overlooked advantages that can make a bigger difference in your overall health.
Getting started and sticking to a plan can be difficult but setting attainable goals and pre-planning workouts can help you achieve your goals. Like many other things in life, your level of commitment to a strength training routine will determine what kind of results you get and how close you are to your wellness objective.
Everyone who works in public safety, wants to be stronger or leaner, maybe weigh a little less; strength training can get you there. Beyond that there are many other ways strength training can impact your health in a positive way. It is an invaluable tool in relaxation, blow off some steam after a long day at work with a lifting session and you’ll be surprised how good you feel when you leave the gym. An added benefit, muscle burns more calories than fat even at rest, so if you are trying to lose weight you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much easier that becomes even if you keep your caloric intake the same.
Your bones will thank you, as resistance training is one of the best ways to improve bone density and stave off or mitigate the effects of conditions like osteoporosis. It can help fight and slow down several major metabolic diseases like diabetes, by teaching your body how to use insulin more efficiently and lower your risk for heart disease by better regulating your blood pressure and boosting your good cholesterol. All of these are little pieces in the overall wellness picture, with the result being a healthier you.
Beginning a strength training regimen can be quite difficult, especially if you have never really been into exercising before. Searching for plans on from authoritative sources (e.g. the American Council on Exercise), will give you literally thousands of options. But before you begin searching for a workout plan, set some goals. Simply ask yourself these three simple questions:
- What kind of physique do I want, do I want to be a mass monster like a bodybuilder or do I want a trimmer more athletic body?
- What’s my timetable to achieve these goals, do I just want to get in shape for the summer beach season, or am I trying to create life time habits?
- How much time and money do I have to invest in this process, depending on my work and personal schedules?
If this sounds kind of daunting, it is. The answers to the above questions will help determine what kind of plan you should develop and where to begin. Here are two invaluable tips, keep it simple and just start doing it.
You can join a gym or work out at home but pick a few exercises that you feel comfortable with and focus on those in the beginning, there will be plenty of time later to add variation and complexity. And start, as you gain experience over time you will be able to better understand where you want to be and how to get there.
Strength training is an important component in any plan to improve your health. Its benefits can vary from the immediate to subtler and long-lasting improvements in the form and function of your body and mind. Starting can be hard, with lots of choices to confuse you, but if you never begin you will never see the results that you want, so, keep it simple and just start doing.
At the end of the day you want to look and feel good to be well, and this along with a few other pieces like a good diet and rest, will get you there.
About the Author
Ahrar ‘Sid’ Siddiqui serves as a Supervisor in an emergency communication center, with 11 years of experience in Emergency Management and dispatching Police, Fire and EMS resources. During his career he has served on Arlington County’s Diversity Workgroup, EOC, Vesta/Nextgen 911 committee and is currently a member of the IPSA Fitness and Wellness Committee.
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