Physical fitness of paramedic students during vocational training - a follow-up study

Heikki Paakkonen, Joachim Ring, Jyrki Kettunen



Introduction: Paramedics’ work includes periods of physically light activity, but also involves short periods of relatively intense physical activity.  Even during their studies paramedic students’ days involve a lot of sitting, i.e. physically sedentary behaviour. We initiated a programme to motivate paramedic students to be physically active during their studies. In this study we report physical fitness among paramedic students who for one year participated in brief physical activity counselling consisting of both verbal and a written individually tailored exercise program

Methods: A total of 40 paramedic students (26 female, 14 male) had participated voluntarily in a physical activity programme alongside their studies. Subjects’ maximal oxygen consumption and muscle strength were measured at baseline and at one-year follow-up. According to the results of the baseline tests all students were given an individual exercise programme, which included aerobic and muscle strength training.

Results: Sixty-five percent (26/40) of the students participated in the follow-up examinations. At baseline male students had higher mean maximal oxygen consumption (VO2Max) and, as expected, greater absolute muscle strength than their female counterparts (all p-values <0.05). During the follow-up females had improved their VO2Max on average by 2.4 ml/kg/min. Furthermore, females on average improved the number of squats  by 4.2 [95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.01 to 8.33] repetitions, and males improved the number of push-ups (mean improvement 4.8, 95% CI 1.93 to 7.57), and left arm grip strength (mean improvement 4.0 kg, 95% CI 1.39 to 6.53).

Conclusions: It seems to be possible to maintain, and even slightly improve paramedic students’ physical fitness with a self-directed, guided, home exercise programme. This approach could enhance prospective paramedics’ willingness to develop the necessary physical qualities long-term throughout their clinical careers. 


paramedics; physical fitness; physical endurance; employee health

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