Working Out on Shift – Any tips out there?

This may come as a shock to you, but I’m an out of shape paramedic.

Sure, I’m only in an XL uniform shirt and my size 36 EMS pants I got when I was 20 still fit (Really! Pro-Tuff is/was an amazing brand. Are they still around?) but they’re um… tight enough that they could replace the compression band on that Zoll CPR squeezer thing.

I’m not huge, but I’m not where I want to be. I’m certainly no Greg Friese who runs marathons every other day or so, but I’m no Jabba the Medic either. Last shift I carried a not-too-heavy patient down only two flights of stairs and down a driveway to the cot and I was huffing and puffing. I didn’t like it and decided I was going to do something about it.

So today on shift I made use of the city’s workout room that we share with the fire guys and the cops. I am happy to announce that I can still run a decent mile and I survived an hour of cardio followed by some situps, back exercises, and pushups.

And now I am stiff as heck and am announcing it on my blog so that y’all can laugh at my old-ness. Well that, and I have a few questions for the masses:

How do you stay in shape for EMS? Do you do anything?

Do you work out on duty? Is it allowed?

We work a rotating 24hr shift, the “California” shift I believe it’s called. It’s 24 on/24 off/24 on/24 off/24 on/4 days off. I can work out in my station in a rather nice gym area with anything I think I might want to use to get myself back in shape for Grim-Reaper ball-kicking and so forth.

Does anyone out there have any suggestions for me? Working out at home is not as easy as I’d like it to be, but probably not as hard as I might think it is. Still, I’d like to see if anyone else has an on-duty workout plan that I might be able to copy. I need to get myself back in reasonably better shape. I’m not going to be running any marathons anytime soon, but I sure would like to be able to kneel down to tube a patient and not get a cramp in my hammy.

I'd love your suggestions. Feel free to chime in.

  • Eric

    A couple possible choices? First, water water water, drink it. here is a nifty formula, me for example, I weigh 170 lbs, so i would need to be drinking 85 oz of water a day (my weight/2 = oz of water). My other suggestions are change what you eat/snack on at work. The other is use your days off to work out, you only really need a good solid 30 min/day and this will also give you a day to “recover” (which is essential also).

    • Great suggestions from Eric to focus on food and fluids. I have two mantras that I use 1) 70% of fitness happens in the kitchen and 2) think fruit first. I used a calorie tracking app to track all inputs. You will delight in the data and likely make much better choices.

  • Add a habit streak app to your phone and create some simple habits like 30 minutes of walking each day. Running 3 days a week or whatever is most fun. Do fun stuff.

    Any other vices that might impact your lung capacity?

  • Bradley Williams

    Ditto, exchange soda for water. If coffee, black with artificial sweetner. Most of all put yourself first, certainly EMS won’t.

  • Shane Roland

    I am proud to hear that you have decided to make some healthy changes. From your blog, I do not know how old you are. The first thing I would do is get a physical from your Doc. Get some blood work done to see where you are at with hormones and cholesterol. This is something you can always use as a base as you age. My next suggestion would be to slow down. You do not want to get injured or discouraged by your first work-out. Start with some moderate cardio and lighter weight. Start with a full body work-out a few times a week. You can move quickly between exercises to keep the heart rate up. After a few weeks, you can start hitting each body part a little harder. That means you can break your work-out into different body parts every day. Just make sure you give your body enough time to rest. Check out Muscle and Fitness Magazine’s web page. They have numerous routines on their. Remember, you are supposed to enjoy exercising. Get out and take a walk or hike a local trail. Give it a go for three weeks and I bet you will be hooked. The first couple of weeks are always the toughest. Also, diet is 70% of getting healthy. I don’t even like to use the word diet. You should eat to live and not live to eat. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.