Carter County Sheriff's Office takes on 'challenge' to get fit

CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. - They spend 24-hours a day taking care of everyone else, but News 5 discovered that this weekend Carter County's first responders made their well-being their top priority.

A 2008 law enforcement officer stress survey found that between 25% and 35% of police officers have stress-based physical health problems.

But Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes is trying to decrease the number health problems brought on by the job's demands for officers like Louis Tester.

"My job sometimes requires me to be physical, because sometimes the people we arrest we have to fight with them. So I want to be able to do that," said Louis Tester, works for the Carter County Sheriff's Office.

Saturday they traded their boots and badges for work out gear.

The department brought in personal trainer and Mountain States Health Alliance Wellness Initiatives Director Kevin Harkness to help craft a workout and healthy eating plan suited for their line of work.

"[It comes down to] Time management, they don't have time to stop. 12 hours shifts and they can have 6-hours non-stop, where they are just engaged in activity. Your body needs fuel during that time," said Kevin Harkness.

But this isn't meant to be a one-time workout; it's a kick off to the department's biggest loser challenge.

16 employees including the sheriff plan to work out with a personal trainer and over the next 3 months as part of the challenge.

But Tester isn't just doing the challenge to improve his job performance.

"The healthier I can eat, and the more exercise I can do. I need to lose some weight, I think that will help me to live a longer productive life and be able to enjoy life when I retire," said Tester.

While Sheriff Mathes highly encouraged his employees to take part in the challenge, he tells us the challenge is completely voluntary.

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