Generally, it is recommended that you warm up before any exercise routine to prevent injuries to yourself. Sometimes maybe even the warm up is too intense, as one California correctional officer found out when he injured himself doing jumping jacks as part of his warm up routine. He was originally denied workers’ compensation for his injuries and then awarded compensation only after a state appeals court sided with the officer.
Daniel Young is a sheriff’s sergeant in Butte County, CA and was seemingly following company orders. A policy of the department requires officers to stay in good shape, since they might be expected to handle life-threatening or hazardous situations. Young would also be expected to participate in annual training exercises that included simulated combat. Since the department doesn’t authorize using work hours for exercise, Young was doing routines at home to stay in shape. As he was warming up one day in January of 2012 he felt a pain in his left knee.
At his initial hearing he was denied benefits by the board, on the grounds that the department imposed a fitness requirement and left it up to individual officers to see who might comply. Young testified that he does not think he would have been healthy enough to be able to perform his duties without his routine. He stated he believed he might be terminated if he did not maintain good physical fitness. The court that ultimately ruled on Mr. Young’s case cited several other cases of officers who had received comp for their injuries. One Highway Patrol officer was injured at home practicing long jumps; another was hurt on vacation while he was running to stay in shape for a fitness test.
When the court decided that Mr. Young deserved comp, they cited the Ezzy test. The Ezzy test is a two-pronged approach to determine reasonableness of comp claims, the employee must believe their participation in the activity is expected by the employer and that belief must be reasonable. They said it was reasonable to believe that he maintain some kind of off-duty exercises that would, under traditional definitions, seem like a low-risk and popular activity, so his jumping jacks would fall under that definition.