Paramedics are among the most frequently injured health professionals in Australia. A lack of physical capacity may contribute to injury risk in this occupational population.
This study sought to describe and compare the physical fitness of male and female paramedics across age groups to ascertain differences in physical capacity.
A group of regional Australian paramedics (n = 140; 78 males; mean ± SD 37.4 ± 9.9 years; body mass index 28.1 ± 4.9 kg/m2) underwent a fitness assessment. Measures included upper, lower and core-body muscular strength and flexibility. Outcomes were compared between genders and across age groups using two-way between-groups analysis of variance.
Male paramedics had greater upper body strength (P < 0.05; push-ups) mean (95% CI): 22.6 (19.4–25.9) versus 18.7 (15.2–22.3); similar lower body strength (single-leg wall squat): 39.0 (32.6–45.3) s versus 36.7 (27.1–46.3) s; greater core strength (P < 0.05; prone plank hold): 87.9 (77.6–98.3) s versus 73.8 (63.7–83.8) s; similar upper body flexibility (back scratch): −4.0 (−6.7 to −1.3) cm versus −0.3 (−2.2 to 1.7) cm; and similar lower body flexibility (sit and reach): 20.4 (18.2–22.6) cm versus 26.1 (23.5–28.7) cm to female paramedics. Core, upper and lower body strength all decreased with age (P < 0.05).
Core, upper and lower body strength and upper body flexibility were poorer for older compared to younger regional paramedics in New South Wales, Australia. Future research should investigate whether these outcomes are associated with occupational injury risk. This information would assist in the design of injury prevention interventions for paramedics such as tailored workplace exercise programs.