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Assessing Fitness for Military Enlistment: Physical, Medical, and Mental Health Standards
been subject to a benefit-cost analysis and found to produce annual savings of $14 million in the U.S. Army alone (Knapik et al., 2004a). Pope (2002) studied injury and attrition during training in the Australian army and concluded that introducing a running test to screen out low physical fitness recruits could generate cost savings of over $1 million annually.
Special training units for individuals identified as having low physical fitness based on a fitness test at the start of basic training
Knapik et al., 2004a
Risk of basic training attrition reduced from 25 to 8 percent in men; from 29 to 19 percent in women; cost savings of $14 million annually in the U.S. Army
Knapik et al., 2004c
No reduction in injury risk
Special training units for individuals identified as having low physical fitness men and 63percent of the end of basic training
Knapik et al., 2003a, 2003b
Retention in service after one year of 74 percent of based on a fitness test at women who graduated through the special training unit
Gender-Specific Physical Training Programs
Risk of overuse injuries to the lower extremities is much higher in female than in male basic trainees (Institute of Medicine, 1998), and it is well documented that fitness is consistently lower in female recruits than in their male counterparts (Sharp et al., 2002). Also, it seems very likely that low fitness is causally related to lower extremity injury and injury-related attrition from first-term military service (Jones et al., 2000). Accordingly, the current practice of integrating female and male recruits in the same basic training units and exposing the two gender groups to the same physical training program is a prescription for producing high injury rates in female trainees. It should not be surprising that rates of overuse injury in female trainees are extremely high. To reduce this risk, physical training procedures for female recruits could be adjusted in accordance with the lower average fitness level of women. Gender could be taken into account in the physical training element of basic training, either by creating separate training units for men and women or by grouping within gender-integrated units on the basis of fitness level. If the latter