My father has worked with the department of justice for 20+ years, so he has worked regularly with police officers. As soon as my Kinesiology professor had announced an opportunity to work with public safety officers, it immediately sparked my interest. My father has conveyed to me other the years what law enforcement tasks entail-long work hours, both physical and sedentary work-related demands, and responding to highly stressful situations with carrying heavy equipment. As a kinesiology major and former psychology and public health major, I am extremely interested in not only how human movement affects our health, but also how our environment, occupations, and behavior can impact our mental and physical health. My long-term goal is to become a physical therapist working with populations who have limited movement whether it be due to medical circumstances, such as a chronic or acute illness, or an unfortunate injury. A physical therapist’s job is to improve people’s quality of life through movement. I believe that exercise is the best ‘medicine’ that can help someone restore functionality in order to live a high-quality life. As I’ve studied Prince William County public safety officers through this project, I’ve gained a better understanding of how their lifestyles can relate to their movement, fitness and health dysfunctions and where in the health and occupational field we have some gaps and needs for intervention or more research.
On a weekly basis, I attend team meetings with my fellow student peers and mentors, where we discuss collaboratively about our research topic and with our research protocol. I learned how to properly review literature on police fitness and quality of life, as well as how to develop a clear and concise research question based on past literature. I also test 3-5 public safety officers in the GMU SMART Lab on the Manassas campus. On each of our subjects I help run a body composition test, a functional movement screen indicating any movement dysfunctions, and other various tests that assess their muscular strength, endurance, power and cardiovascular fitness. After each testing protocol is complete, I write a fitness test report with the subject’s results compared to the normative data. I work either independently or collaboratively with other Kinesiology and athletic training students to write an exercise program for that individual public safety officer During this project, I have realized not only how much of environments and occupation directly affect our health, but that being able to come up with a clear and concise research question is the foundation of any research study. Learning from past literature and making research decisions based on what is both known and unknown is the most intriguing thing to me about research.