Police, fire departments begin Wellness Challenge

Published 6:00 am Monday, December 18, 2000

Participants in a Wellness Challenge between the city’s policeand fire departments have their initial scores and will starttrying to better those totals Monday.

Richard Barker, with challenge sponsor Brookhaven Rehabilitationand Wellness Clinic, said team averages in eight categories hadbeen gathered and the fire department had the better initialscores.

“Right now, the fire department is a little better than thepolice department,” Barker said.

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Barker, though, said the first totals are not as important asthose at the end of the three-month competition. Members of eachnine-person team will be re-evaluated in a month.

“We’re looking for improvement,” Barker said.

Wellness Challenge teams are being evaluated in the areas ofblood pressure, weight, resting heart rate, body fat, endurance,flexibility, strength and cholesterol.

Citing job-related issues, Barker said both departments’ membershad borderline hypertension blood pressure levels while policedepartment participants had a higher average weight of 222 poundscompared to 201 for the fire department.

Resting heart rate measures how hard a person’s heart is workingwhen at rest. The fire department’s average was lower at 78compared to 81 for the police department.

“We want that to be as low as possible,” Barker said.

In contrast, endurance measures how hard the heart works duringexercise. Fitness officials also want a low total in that area.

“The lower it goes the better,” Barker said.

The police department’s three women participants influenced itstotal to some degree in the body fat area, where women tend to havea higher percentage, and in the strength category, which is judgedby number of push ups in a minute, Barker said. Despite some lownumbers from the women, the police department posted a goodstrength total that was only three below the fire department.

“That’s pretty significant,” Barker said.

At the end of the three-month period, the winning team willreceive a prize. Also, challenge coordinators are considering aprize for the individual with the most improvement.

Jimmy Barker, wellness challenge supervisor, indicated thecompetition will not be based on which team has the better numbersat the end. Rather, it will be decided on who has done the most toimprove and better their wellness scores.

“The way we’re measuring this is percentage of improvement,” hesaid.