Last year, heart attacks were the third-leading cause of death among on-duty law officers in the U.S., trailing behind gunfire and auto accidents. The off-duty health-related death toll is, of course, much higher.
Police officers are held to a different standard than other professions when it comes to a number of things like their behavior on-and-off duty — and their physical condition should be no different. You’re sprinting after suspects at a moment’s notice, engaging in physical, life-threatening struggles, and maneuvering in and out of your vehicle at swift speeds in an emergency. And if that was what your shift looked like every day — that might be enough. But you’re also sitting in your patrol car, sitting at roll call, standing at intersections, and driving around town.
For some departments, the sprinting and struggling is such a small percentage of the job that it’s hard to argue that staying in shape is so crucial. But the benefits of staying fit are infinite. If you’re not worried about a spontaneous physical fight for your life, then how about for the long haul?
Not Just Fit: LEO-Fit
Brentwood (Tenn.) Sgt. Nick Surre was an athlete in high school and college, and staying fit as he entered law enforcement remained a passion of his. Since 2007 he and a friend he’d met in the academy were constantly developing and experimenting with different fitness plans designed for members of law enforcement.
“Our goal is to create workout plans that develop strength fast and that are time-specific,” said Surre.
“With these routines you can go to the gym, set up your equipment, and finish your workout in ten minutes. If you’ve pushed yourself, you’re going to be spent after ten minutes anyways.”
Surre and his co-founder Craig Francis decided to turn their routines into a website and an online community so that law enforcement nationwide would benefit from it and share their results in order to motivate each other. Here’s the best part: There are no restrictions, and it’s all free!
Flexibility, Strength, and Stamina
LEO-fit.com provides week-by week workouts for all levels of training, labeled ’rookie’ for beginners, ‘officer’ for intermediate, and ‘LEO-fit’ for advanced users.
Each workout incorporates a combination of stretches, cardio, and upper-body strength. The routines are labeled by week, and each week contains four increasingly challenging workout cycles.
New routines are added each Sunday night to the site — 48 weeks and counting — and LEO-fit fans share their successes via the site’s Facebook page. New routines can also be emailed directly to you as soon as they’re posted.
While each exercise is detailed and many are accompanied by videos, both Surre and Francis are available to answer questions about the workout routines via email. They respond within 24 hours, and most often much sooner than that.
“Police don’t have nationwide fitness standards like fire departments do,” said Surre, who is a certified Cooper law enforcement fitness specialist. He also serves as Brentwood PD’s fitness supervisor, where he developed a fitness program for his brothers and sisters in blue.
LEO-fit.com also offers tips like preferred nutrition and fitness apps for your smartphone and other keys to a successful weight loss and/or fitness plan.
Monthly mental health articles written by June McHenry LCSW, Ph.D, are posted to the site as well, under the heading "Behind the Badge." They can be found under the tab 'Mentally Fit,' and address specific mental health issues law enforcement officers often face.
The most common excuse people have for slacking on their workout is that they don’t have the time. Ten minutes of vigorous exercise and a nationwide community of law enforcement officers supporting you could be the motivation you need to find a regiment that works for you and stick with it.
If that doesn’t work, just think that the next criminal that engages you in a physical altercation is working out, and he’s doing it often.