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Can You Spare 500 Calories?

While we were working on this month’s issue, news reports circulated that NASA had asked the two-member crew of the International Space Station to eat less in order to combat a food shortage on the craft. While this sounds like a tricky situation, as the astronauts can’t fly to their nearest supermarket to stock up, the reduction in food consumption requested by NASA amounted to just 300 calories a day.

With America currently holding the title of the fattest country in the world, this policy could be a good one to employ here in the United States. To lose one pound a week, the average person would have to cut their calorie intake by 500 calories a day, which equates to a large-size portion of McDonald’s french fries. Alternatively, you could burn an additional 500 calories a day to lose a pound a week. For many of us, finding the time or energy to burn 500 calories is unrealistic. Obviously, a combination of exercise with calorie control is the ideal fit, especially for EMS providers.

Approximately 30% of Americans meet the criteria for obesity, so we can assume that 30% of EMS providers also meet that definition. When EMS Magazine launched its Fit For Life in EMS supplement last year, our aim was to educate readers about health and fitness in order to improve their safety in the workplace and their well-being in general. As we wanted to find out what your prime health concerns were, we offered readers the opportunity to complete a fitness survey. We were overwhelmed by the response we received from our subscribers, who were extremely candid in their answers to our probing questions about health and fitness issues.

Our survey found that your No. 1 concern is losing weight, closely followed by improving cardiovascular health—no surprises there! What we were surprised by was the number of readers who reported that due to weight issues, they had difficulty maneuvering patients, found it hard to walk to the scene if their vehicle was parked some distance away, or experienced a decrease in stamina and endurance during calls—sometimes adrenaline can only do so much. As to why it is so difficult to make your health and fitness a priority, you told us that shift patterns impact stamina and result in poor food choices, while the lack of a support system, both at work and in the home, causes you to feel alone as you battle to save your health. Hopefully, our supplement will open the door to talking about these concerns.

The fourth Fit For Life in EMS supplement can be found on page 91. The articles in this issue focus on how to make wise fast food choices, how to find the courage to change bad habits and how to develop an inexpensive home gym. If you would like to participate in our fitness survey, go to our website at for more information. With your input, we will continue to create content that focuses on providing realistic solutions to health problems in EMS.

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