Barriers to Physical Activity Among Emergency Medical Services Professionals

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Emergency medical services (EMS) professionals demonstrate low adherence to physical activity guidelines and experience a high prevalence of obesity and incidence of injury. The authors investigate the barriers to participating in physical activity among EMS professionals. Methods: The EMS professionals employed by 15 North Carolina EMS agencies were surveyed with validated items. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to estimate the odds (odds ratio, 95% confidence interval) of not meeting physical activity guidelines for each barrier to being active, controlling for age, sex, body mass index category, race/ethnicity, certification and education level, and work hours. Results: A total of 1367 EMS professionals were invited to participate, and 359 complete responses were recorded. Half of the respondents (48.2%) met Centers for Disease Control and Prevention physical activity guidelines. According to standard body mass index categories, 55.9% were obese. There were increased odds of not meeting physical activity guidelines for the following barriers: lack of energy (5.32, 3.12–9.09), lack of willpower (4.31, 2.57–7.22), lack of time (3.55, 2.12–5.94), social influence (3.02, 1.66–5.48), and lack of resources (2.14, 1.12–4.11). The barriers of fear of injury and lack of skill were not associated with meeting physical activity guidelines. Conclusion: Half of EMS professionals did not meet physical activity guidelines, and the majority were obese. Significant associations exist between several modifiable barriers and not meeting physical activity guidelines.

Supples and McGinnis are with the Department of Emergency Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, USA. Supples is also with the Department of Emergency Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA. Rivard, Chrzan, and Panchal are with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, Columbus, OH, USA. Rivard is also with the Division of Health Behavior and Health Promotion, The Ohio State University College of Public Health, Columbus, OH, USA. Cash is with the Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA. Chrzan and Panchal are also with the Division of Epidemiology, The Ohio State University College of Public Health, Columbus, OH, USA. Panchal is also with the Department of Emergency Medicine, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH, USA.

Supples (msupples@iu.edu) is corresponding author.

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