How fit security guards must depend on their work–some roles are more active and potentially dangerous than others. Usually, the only physical requirement for a security job is the ability to stand and walk for long periods. However, as security guards have to keep the public safe, they should maintain good health and fitness
What Is The Most Physically Demanding Security Guard Role?
The most physically demanding role for a security guard is probably close protection, or being a bodyguard. With this job, there really is an expectation that you’ll be ‘in superb shape with strong stamina and long endurance‘. Bodyguards also generally require extra training beyond the Certificate II in Security Operations, which is enough for a basic security licence and most security jobs. Although there is an expectation on all security guards that they protect the public, with close protection you’re there to anticipate physical harm against your client, and there’s an assumption that you’ll be able to deal with violence.
What Is The Least Physically Demanding Security Guard Role?
The least physically demanding role for a security guard may be a monitoring security officer, who watches security camera footage on screens for trespassers, thieves and other problems. The work will be especially sedentary if the officer works at a monitoring centre at a different site from the location they’re watching. If the guard is at a control room on site, the work is likely to be more active as there’s a greater possibility they will have to respond to disturbances themselves or divide their time between monitoring footage and doing more active work like patrolling.
What Do Job Advertisements For Security Guards Say About Physical Fitness?
Let’s look at what level of fitness Australian security companies are actually asking for in applicants.
Security Officers – CBD – VIC
– Melbourne – Permanent / Full Time
- Corporate Guards wanted across well-reputable CBD sites
- 24-7 flexibility s essential
- Attractive pay rates
This ad, from one of the biggest security companies operating in Australia, calls for security guards to work in a corporate environment in Melbourne.
The Primary Functions Of The Role Include:
- Welcome and greet guests, stakeholders and other visitors
- Monitoring CCTV
- Ensure that the safety of the buildings at all times
- Delivering an excellent customer service
- Lift access assistance
- Signing in/out of contractors
- Duties in general security
- Responding to alarms and foot patrols
The guards’ duties will be a mix of sedentary work like monitoring CCTV and active tasks like patrols and responding to alarms. This is a fairly typical general selection of duties for a security guard.
Qualifications & Licenses
- Current certificate in First Aid
- Availability of a current drivers license and a vehicle
- Full Right-To-Work in Australia
- Ability to be flexible on a 24/7 roaster
- Current Security certification
- Effective interpersonal and communication skills
- Excellent Presentation and professionalism
- Physically fit and ability to walk/stand for longer periods
- Current Victorian Security Licence
- Experience working as a concierge will be advatagious and highly regarded
So what kind of physical fitness is specified for this role? Under ‘qualifications and licences’, the ad says the applicant ‘must be physically fit and able to stand/walk for long periods’.
Corporate Control Room Operator
Now let’s look at an ad for a slightly different security job with a different company.
Corporate Control Room Operator
- Posted: 25/11/2022
- Closing Date: 25/12/2022
- Job Type: Permanent – Full Time
- Location: Melbourne Inner City Suburbs
- Job Category: Security & Protective Services
A control room operator is the same as a monitoring security officer, described above as one of the least physically taxing security jobs. What are the duties listed for this job?
- Deliver a 5 star customer service
- Ability to handle and take control of the emergency situations
- Monitoring CCTV, detect offenders, detect unusual incidents or signs of security breach and make sure the assests are protected
- Impliment and practice risk assssments and adhere to health and saftey procedures
- Conducting foot patrols in both indoor and outdoor
- Ability to use building access control systems to provide remote access to buildings.
- Respond and moniroting of the internal and external alarms
- Ability to respond to critical situations and have reports prepared alternatively.
- Being able to interact with the building management, key stakeholders, client representatives, security officers and emergency services via intercom systems, phone and radio
You can see that although the job title suggests the guard will spend most of their time on the job in the control room monitoring cameras, there is, in fact, a bit of physical activity involved with even this role in the form of responding to alarms, taking control in an emergency and patrolling on foot. What level of physical fitness does this ad ask of the applicants?
Required Skills and Attributes
- Excellent typing skills
- Excellent customer service
- Good computer literacy(Word Exel, Control systems, Access)
- Sharp eye for excellent detection
- Being physically fit to carry out foot patrols
- Quick thinker, reactive and being able to show initiative
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Professional presentation
The physical fitness requirements for this job are about the same as those for the last one. If you browse more job vacancies for security guards, you’ll find that most of them reference needing a basic level of physical fitness, even if the job is not that active.
Why Do Security Guards Have To Be Physically Fit?
But you don’t have to be that fit to stand and walk, so why do security employers bother asking for applicants to be ‘physically fit’ when it seems like the most active thing they do in a day might be conducting foot patrols?
Surges Of Activity
Many security jobs may include a lot of downtime where the officer is expected to stand (or sit) around watching for trouble, but when trouble comes, they’re expected to leap into action, dealing with violent, unstable people. An old saying describes war as ‘long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror’. Security work is, thankfully, less dangerous than war, but at its worst, it can be life-threatening.
Fit People Are Less Prone To Injuries And Accidents
A security guard is much safer if they can rely on their body to do what’s necessary in an emergency, and so are the people they protect.
Fit Security Guards Are A Greater Deterrent To Bad Behaviour
If a member of the public is getting unruly and about to escalate their behaviour into physical violence, seeing a security guard who looks like they’re fit and capable could be the factor that makes them reign themselves in.
Security Guards Sometimes Require Physical Strength
If deterring bad behaviour doesn’t work, security guards may need to physically confront people to restrain them or remove them from the premises. If they can’t do this effectively, they and others could be in danger.
An Unfit Security Guard Can Be A Legal Liability
According to Shine Lawyers, the Liquor Act 1992 obliges security guards in Australia to keep members of the public safe from each other, at least in a licensed venue.
How Fit Are Security Guards?
There are good reasons for security guards to be fit, but are they fit in reality? There isn’t much data about the fitness of Australian security personnel, but we can take a study of obesity across occupations by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the US as some indication. Workers in the category ‘protective services personnel’ (which includes security guards and police) were found to have the second-highest rates of obesity of any occupation that was part of the study.
What About Security Guards In Australia?
As we said above, it’s hard to find figures on the fitness of Australian security guards, but the fact that 32% of men in Australia are obese, a figure second only to the US, indicates that the situation may be similar here (around 86% of security guards in Australia are male).
How Fit Should Security Guards Be?
If we count the things security guards might need to do in an emergency, and not just the standing and walking, how fit do they need to be? Although they aren’t part of the private security industry, a page about Australia’s Parliamentary Security Service (PSS) officers lists some things its recruits may need to do in an emergency, which are similar to what private security guards might occasionally need to do:
- Move from one area to another at speed
- React rapidly to situations
- Remove people from the premises using unarmed defensive tactics
Unlike most private security companies, the PSS conducts a fitness test for its recruits which includes a ‘shuttle run, push-ups, sit-ups, hand strength and a simulated body drag’, suggesting that having the level of fitness required to do these things will benefit security guards in emergencies.
How Can Security Guards Keep Themselves Physically Fit For The Job?
Considering that private security guards may face emergencies, including carrying people to safety and physically removing people from an area, it’s a good idea for them to try to keep fit. Below are some steps they can take to increase their fitness gradually.
Exercises For Security Guards
Here are a few strength exercises using body weight only (no equipment). You can do some of these in a quiet moment at work (if you can avoid getting your uniform dirty).
Planks strengthen your core (the muscles that support your abdomen), so they can help you to endure the long hours of standing that come with security work while maintaining good posture to prevent pain and injury.
How to do a plank:
- Get on the floor, face down, with your weight on your elbows and your toes. Hold your body in a straight line with no sagging downwards.
- Engage your core, drawing your abdominal muscles up toward your spine.
- Try building up to holding this position for a minute or more.
Push-ups will help you develop the upper body strength you need if you’re ever required to restrain someone or carry an injured person at work.
How to do a push-up:
- Get on the floor, face down, with your hands underneath your body, slightly wider than your shoulders. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Support yourself with your weight on your hands and toes and your body in a straight line.
- Engage your core, drawing your abdominal muscles upward toward your spine.
- Bend your elbows and lower your body so it’s nearly touching the floor. Then, keeping your core engaged and your body in a straight line, raise your body to the starting position.
If you can’t do full push-ups yet, try building up to them by putting your weight on your knees rather than your toes.
Wall sits can strengthen the muscles of your lower body to improve your endurance for long periods of standing and walking.
How to do a wall sit:
- Stand with your back against a wall.
- Slowly slide down until your upper legs are at a 90-degree angle, parallel to the floor.
- Maintain this position for 30 seconds or more.
Stretches For Security Guards
Standing (or even sitting) for a long time can leave you stiff and even result in pain. Here are some stretches to relieve the effects of hours spent standing.
Standing Quadriceps Stretch
This stretch is for the quadriceps muscles, which are at the front of the thigh. This is the largest muscle group in the body, and it’s necessary for many important types of movement, including walking and running, as well as standing.
How to do a standing quad stretch:
- You may want to hold a wall or chair with your left hand to keep your balance. Lift your right foot up and backwards and grab the top of the ankle with your right hand.
- Pull the ankle toward your buttocks and push the right hip forward at the same time. You should feel the stretch along the front of your thigh.
- Repeat with the other leg.
Standing Lunge Calf Stretch
If you stand around a lot during the day, you may experience some pain or cramping in your calves. This stretch can help relieve that.
How to do a standing lunge calf stretch:
- Begin by facing a wall, with your body about one step away. Put both your hands on the wall.
- Step backwards with your left foot and bend your right knee.
- Push your left heel into the ground. You should feel the stretch in your left calf.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds or longer, then repeat with the other leg.
Seated Lumbar Flexion Stretch
Here’s one you can do sitting down. This move stretches your lower back, which can get tight if you spend a lot of time standing and ultimately cause pain. Ask your doctor before trying this if you’ve ever experienced herniation of a lumbar disc.
How to do a seated lumbar flexion stretch:
- Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor slightly in front of you.
- Lean forward, bending from your lower back. Reach your hands toward the floor between your knees. Don’t stretch further than is comfortable.
- Keep stretching for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.
Incidental Exercise At Work
Incidental exercise is any exercise you can squeeze in during the day in small increments. If you find it difficult to motivate yourself to exercise in your downtime, you might be able to fit exercise in during the work day. For example, you could take a short walk during your break or climb the stairs instead of taking the lift.
Eating healthier foods is not just good for your long-term fitness. Even in the short term, it can make you more alert and energetic. Junk food doesn’t provide the sustained energy you need to stay on your feet for hours–it gives a short burst of energy, but then leaves you feeling drained later in the day when your blood sugar eventually crashes. Instead of highly-processed foods like cakes and chips, try having a sandwich or salad with protein in it and snacking throughout the day on nuts or yoghurt.
Aside from getting actual exercise, if you have to stand in one place for a long time, it’s a good idea to shift your position slightly from time to time to keep your joints from getting stiff. Moving around will increase the circulation of synovial fluid around your joints and lubricate them, making them less likely to seize up if you have to move suddenly after a long period of inactivity.
Make sure that you drink plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration can make any physical activity feel like more effort, as well as harming your ability to concentrate and making you feel tired–the last thing you need with a job that’s both mentally and physically demanding.
There’s no point in trying to improve your fitness if you don’t get enough sleep. Sleep lets the body repair itself and the brain consolidate new memories. If your sleep quality is poor, you may have problems paying attention at work or be more likely to have accidents. Here are some ways to improve your sleep:
Stop Looking At Your Phone Before Bed
Try to avoid looking at your phone for at least one hour before you go to bed. Social media is the worst for this: your active engagement with what’s happening on the screen keeps your brain alert when you’re supposed to be getting sleepy. Plus, the blue light it emits can interfere with your circadian rhythm.
No Caffeine Late In The Day
Caffeine’s effect on sleep varies from one person to another, but as a general rule, it’s good to avoid coffee and other caffeinated drinks for four to six hours before bed if you want restful sleep.
Get Up And Go To Bed At The Same Time Every Day If You Can
This one might not be possible if you’re doing shift work, but if you can manage it, having a regular sleep and wake time helps your body and mind get into a pattern and makes falling asleep and getting up easier. If you maintain a regular schedule for a little while, you may even find that you wake up every day without an alarm.
Staying fit isn’t the only benefit of exercise. Regular exercise can help you sleep better, but don’t exercise at a high intensity an hour or less before bedtime, as this could increase the time it takes to fall asleep and harm your sleep quality.
Fit For Duty
Being a security guard makes big demands on your physical and emotional resources, even on days when you don’t need to eject a patron or confront a trespasser. You can give yourself the best chance of doing well by making your health and fitness a priority, and it can be as easy as making a few small changes every day. If you’re considering becoming a security guard, getting started is as easy as enrolling in a Certificate II in Security Operations with a registered training organisation.