Stress Reactivity in Fire Fighters: An Exercise Intervention

Abstract

This experiment was designed to investigate the efficacy of 16 weeks of exercise training as an intervention to reduce the psychophysiological response of fire fighters to psychological stress. Fifty-three members of the Austin Fire Department (AFD) were recruited as participants and were randomly assigned to either exercise on a rowing ergometer or to continue their present modes of exercise training. Psychological stress was induced by a computerized version of the AFD Strategy and Tactics Drill (STD), in which participants responded to a simulated fire scene. Participants completed the STD prior to and following the exercise intervention. Prior to training, the groups did not differ in their cardiovascular response to the STD. Significant group differences were observed after training, in which exercise-trained participants reacted with significantly lower pulse and mean arterial pressure than their counterparts in the control condition. Exercise participants also reported significantly less stress-related state anxiety and negative affect. Exercise training appears to be a useful intervention to reduce the response to fire-related psychological stress in fire fighters.

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Throne, L.C., Bartholomew, J.B., Craig, J. et al. Stress Reactivity in Fire Fighters: An Exercise Intervention. International Journal of Stress Management 7, 235–246 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1009574428627

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  • fire fighters
  • exercise
  • stress reactivity
  • mean arterial pressure
  • anxiety