The fourth in the Ten Virtues of a Law Officer series states:
(I will purpose to) maintain my readiness for duty by seeking proper rest, diet, and exercise…
This is another one of those virtues that will likely get a reaction out of some of you. There’s no question that the police lifestyle does not encourage healthy habits. But it is critically important that we maintain our physical and mental fitness for duty. That means you have to start taking care of yourself if you are not already.
Encouragingly, a healthy lifestyle is not all that difficult. Like building character, wellness is the culmination of small decisions that you make everyday. Making good decisions about what you do with, and put into, your body will produce positive results over time. It’s another variation of the Law of the Harvest – you reap what you sow.
This is such an important component of professionalism that I have included a whole Dynamic of Wellness in the Police Dynamics training program and it tends to be one of the best received of all the training segments. In it, I stress the fact that you don’t have to be fit to be well. Health can be thought of as a continuum with Wellness on one end and Illness on the other. If you’re sick, it’s a doctor’s job to get you to the middle where you have zero illness. But wellness requires going beyond the zero point.
You can think of fitness as an extreme form of wellness. That’s not for everyone, but if you are in that zone, good for you and keep it up. For most of us, wellness is a good place to be. And to follow this model to the next level, death would be at the extreme end of illness.
Here’s my philosophy. I don’t know how long I am going to live, but I want to spend as much time as I can in the Wellness Zone. And that means making good decisions about exercise, nutrition, and stress management (which includes rest). This is such an important component of our overall fitness for duty, I have set up an entire website around the Dynamic of Wellness. Go there for some great principles that will get you in the Wellness Zone, and keep you there, with a minimum of time and effort.
But here is the bottom line. As a professional law officer, other people depend upon your ability to be physically and mentally sharp. You do not have the right to be out of shape…!
Sheriff Ray Nash
Police Dynamics Institute