Ten Tips Toward Total Wellness for Police Officers

CopsAlive.com offers law enforcement professionals a list of Ten Tips Toward Total Wellness for Police Officers with supporting information from the Mayo Clinic and other health professionals.

1. Drink Lot’s of Water
2. Get Eight Hours of Sleep
3. Control Your Stress
4. Reduce Your Intake of High Fructose Corn Syrup
5. Control Your Portions of Food
6. Rest and Relax
7. Engage in High Quality Relationships
8. Be Moderate in Your Intake of Caffeine and Sugar and Don’t Use Tobacco
9. Stay Active – Exercise
10. Control Your Weight & Your Finances

1. Drink Lot’s of Water

Many medical sources suggest that men drink between 2-3 liters (that’s a little more than 8-12 cups) of water each day (women should drink a little more between 2.2 – 3.3 liters or about 9-14 cups) to stay hydrated. Read an excellent article at the Mayo Clinic website: CLICK HERE

2. Get Eight Hours of Sleep

There is a good article on understanding sleep problems at the WebMD website at: CLICK HERE and interesting article about a door-to-door survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics saying 7-8 hours of sleep in optimal but more or less is risky on the MedHeadlines website: CLICK HERE

3. Control Your Stress

Consider that many sources say that exercise alone is not a good way to manage stress so try meditation, yoga, tai-chi or even talking but do something every day to manage and reduce your stress. Again, the WebMD website has a good article on tips to control your stress at: CLICK HERE and the Mayo Clinic discusses how to Win Control Over Your Stress at: CLICK HERE

4. Reduce Your Intake of High Fructose Corn Syrup

The danger is not so much from the product it’s the fact that it’s in so many things we eat in the U.S. and we need to pay attention to our intake just like anything else. One way to do that is reduce the amount of processed or pre-packaged foods you eat. Check out what The Mayo Clinic says this about it: CLICK HERE and then this recent report from MSNBC.

5. Control Your Portions of Food

A food portion is the amount of a food that you choose to eat at one sitting. It isn’t necessarily the “serving” listed on the product’s container. That also isn’t a “recommended” serving, but rather a measurable quantity that allows you to gage the amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and calories etc. as described by the manufacturer. A portion is something you control and in order to maintain your proper weight and level of physical fitness you should keep an eye on how much food, fat and calories you are taking in.

Here’s one of the Mayo Clinics pages on portion control (CLICK HERE) and they have links to many other articles on diet and nutrition.

Heres and excellent article on the WIN Network site about food portions and servings. this is the Weight-control Information Network site of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). CLICK HERE

6. Rest and Relax

It is scientific fact that if anyone doesn’t get enough rest and relaxation they will start to experience ill effects such as fatigue, slower response times and even agitation and mood swings. These can be a problem for the average person, but they become an professional liability for police officers.

You can find a series of interesting articles on the National Health Association website (CLICK HERE)

The Mayo Clinic offers a list of relaxation techniques to help you reduce your stress (CLICK HERE)

7. Engage in High Quality Relationships

Whether it’s your car partner, your spouse, people you work with or people you are dating, relationships can make or break your ability to do the job of police officer.  Finding the right, positive relationship and avoiding the negative ones can be a challenging task. If you are serious about being the best cop and the best person, you can be, you need to get good at picking the right people to spend MOST of your time with. Again, the Mayo Clinic comes through with a series of articles: (Click the Title(s) that interest you!)

Friendships: Enrich your life and improve your health (Learn how to find good friends and be a good friend.) CLICK HERE

Adult health and Relationships — (from physical and mental health to relationships and workplace issues.) CLICK HERE

Social support: Tap this tool to reduce stress (This is an excellent article on Social support networks provide many health benefits — how to build, maintain these essential relationships.) CLICK HERE

Marriage counseling: Working through relationship problems (Marriage counseling can help couples resolve differences and rekindle love.) CLICK HERE

Infidelity: Mending your marriage after an affair (Infidelity doesn’t have to mean your marriage is over. You can overcome an affair.) CLICK HERE

8. Be Moderate in Your Intake of Caffeine and Sugar and Don’t Use Tobacco

Like everything else caffeine can have benefits and drawbacks. A couple of cups of coffee a day won’t kill you but if you also eat chocolate, drink sodas or energy drinks you might be taking in too much. Some of the warning signs might include insomnia, nervousness, irritability headaches etc. Check out what the Mayo Clinic says about caffeine. CLICK HERE

As far as sugar we get back to some of the issues we found with high fructose corn syrup in that it can promote tooth decay, contribute to an overall condition of poor nutrition and upset your body chemistry by raising your triglyceride count. visit the Mayo Clinic site: CLICK HERE

Check out the FitSugar website CLICK HERE

You know the stats, according to the American Lung Association Every year in the U.S. over 392,000 people die from tobacco-caused disease, making it the leading cause of preventable death. Another 50,000 people die from exposure to secondhand smoke. CLICK HERE for more information.

9. Stay Active – Exercise

This may be perching to the choir but I’ve seen some pretty fat cops and we all need to maintain a peak level of fitness or this job WILL KILL YOU! Not the bad guys, just working the job. So you have to fight everyday for proper fitness. That’s easier for some of you than the rest or us but make no mistake it is a FIGHT!

Check out some of these valuable resources from the Mayo Clinic: (Click the Title(s) that interest you!)

Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity (Need motivation to Exercise? Consider seven ways Exercise can improve your life — starting today!) CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

Here’s a Slide show on Core Exercises (Core exercises strengthen your core muscles, including abs, back and pelvis. CLICK HERE to See how.)

CLICK HERE for a Target heart rate calculator (To calculate your target heart rate zone to exercise safely.)

Here’s a Slide show: Back Exercises that take only 15 minutes a day (Want to prevent back pain? Improve your strength and flexibility with these back exercises.) CLICK HERE

Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms (Depression symptoms often improve with Exercise. Here are tips to help you get started.) CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

Exercise: A drug-free approach to lowering high blood pressure (Exercise is a drug-free approach to lowering blood pressure. Here are tips on getting started.) CLICK HERE

Exercise and illness: Should you exercise when you’re sick? (Exercise and illness — Whether you should Exercise when you’re sick depends on your symptoms.) CLICK HERE

Aerobic exercise: What’s the best frequency for workouts? (For cardiovascular fitness, aerobic Exercise can be done in short bursts or longer sessions.) CLICK HERE

Weight loss: Better to cut calories or exercise more? (Weight loss — The key to weight loss is burning more calories than you consume.) CLICK HERE

Late-day exercise: Can it cause insomnia? (Several studies indicate that regular Exercise improves sleep in people with insomnia.) CLICK HERE

Exercise intensity: Why it matters, how it’s measured (Exercise intensity is a measure of how hard you’re exercising. Here’s why it matters.) CLICK HERE

Cross-training: Rev up your exercise program with variety (Cross-training combines two or more types of physical activity. Mix it up today!) CLICK HERE

Aerobic exercise: Top 10 reasons to get physical (Need inspiration to work out? Consider the top 10 benefits of aerobic Exercise.) CLICK HERE

Aerobic exercise: How to warm up and cool down (Ready to Exercise? Warming up and cooling down can keep you on the go.) CLICK HERE

Eating and exercise: Time it right to maximize your workout (Timing what you eat before you Exercise can make or break your workout.) CLICK HERE

10. Control Your Weight & Your Finances

Why did we lump these two things into one suggestion? Because they are the same as all the other things on the list that most people can’t do in moderation or do too little of (like sleep and water) but with money and diet we think of keeping track. We count calories and we budget money. That ONE skill of keeping count of something is the key to all TEN of these suggestions. As human beings, and especially cops, we do better when we keep track of something important. If we can count it, we can control it. It you want to create Total Wellness in your life and in your law enforcement career then you need to learn to budget, or diet or most simply you need to focus on what’s important and keep it under control. The best way to do that is to KEEP COUNT!

Keep track of the number of hours you are sleeping, make time to relax and de- stress, measure the amount of water you drink by using your own water bottle each day and counting the number of times you fill it. Read food labels and count calories. Check for Corn Syrup or High Fructose Corn Syrup in food ingredients. You will be surprised at how many things contain this product. Even if you enjoy caffeine or sweets they shouldn’t be a major part of your diet especially in a high energy and high stress policing career.

Here are two excellent resources from the Mayo Clinic:

Calorie calculator (Calculate how many daily calories you need to maintain your weight.) CLICK HERE

Counting calories: Getting back to weight-loss basics (Calories count when it comes to weight loss. Here’s how to best cut calories.) CLICK HERE

Here’s a link to an excellent resource, from CopsAlive.com contributor Chuck Rylant, entitled “7 Steps to Financial Freedom” to get you started on your financial management strategy: http://www.cjrylantwealthmanagement.com

Best wishes from CopsAlive – Stay Safe and Stay Healthy!

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About Editor

John Marx was a Police Officer for twenty-three years and served as a Hostage Negotiator for nineteen of those years. He worked as a patrol officer, media liaison officer, crime prevention officer and burglary detective. Also during his career he served as administrator of his city's Community Oriented Governance initiative through the police department's Community Policing project. Today John combines his skills to consult with businesses about improving both their security and their customer service programs. John retired from law enforcement in 2002. When one of his friends, also a former police officer, committed suicide at age 38, John was devastated and began researching the problems that stress creates for police officers. He decided he needed to do something to help change those problems and he wanted to give something back to the profession that gave him so much. He started a project that has evolved into CopsAlive.com. Put simply, the mission of CopsAlive is to save the lives of those who save lives! CopsAlive.com gathers information, strategies and tools to help law enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful careers, relationships and lives.
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  1. Thanks for educating me..these top 10 wellness are not just only an application for the police officers but these can be applied for those who wants wholesome care of themselves. I love the step 9 which involves the exercise intensity, where i found it very useful to me in my daily routines. Thank you very much for sharing your article. I like this!

  2. Pingback: Police Suicide is an International Problem | Cops Alive | Police stress and health - career survival

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