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Can exercise help prevent sleep disorders in police officers?

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital screened 4957 police officers for sleep disorders. There was one group of police officers included in this study that did not conform to the study's overall results. Members of the Massachusetts State Police had significantly lower rates of obstructive sleep apnea than the general study populations. Not surprisingly, the Massachusetts officers also had much lower rates of obesity.

What made the Massachusetts State Police so different from the overall group? In discussing the study results, researchers point to the agency's emphasis and encouragement of exercise and physical fitness.
  • Massachusetts requires its state police officers to pass a fitness test.
  • All state police barracks are equipped with physical fitness centers on the premises.
  • The agency requires that all its officers spend 60 minutes exercising on each of their shifts. This is paid work time, within a shift, not an extra or unpaid hour of work.
This is a great example of how investing in employee health pays great dividends for everyone involved. In this case, that means healthier, more capable officers with fewer health issues -- and less risk of workplace accidents, errors or incidents. This is a sleep issue that should matter to all of us, whether we personally know and love someone who works shifts or not. Our law enforcement officers -- like our doctors, nurses, soldiers, firefighters and pilots -- are people we entrust with our safety and security, and our health. It's in everyone's best interest for these people to be well rested and healthy themselves.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.