TABLE 3-3 Failure Rate of Army Personnel on Physical Performance Tests

 

Study Date 1988*

Study Date 1995

 

Age (years)

Failure (%)

Age (years)

Failure (%)

Males

18–21

29

All ages

11.4

 

22–31

17

17–26

26.8

 

32–51

11

> 27

7.4

 

>52

17

 

 

Females

18–21

36

All ages

13.4

 

22–26

18

17–26

32

 

>26

10

> 27

9.1

* N = 5,347 males; 676 females.

N = 3,000.

SOURCE: Adapted from O'Connor et al. (1990) and Tomasi et al. (1995).

it is widely acknowledged that the periodic military fitness tests establish a minimum level of fitness (the Army PFT was based on an arbitrary, perceived level of fitness needed for Army task performance [Vogel, 1992]). Nevertheless, the results of the study by Tomasi and coworkers (1995) suggest that even this level of fitness is not achieved by a significant number of Army personnel. Although a comparable recent survey of Navy personnel was not identified, it is known that in fiscal year 1996, 658 enlisted personnel and 24 officers were separated from Navy service for failure to pass the physical fitness portion of the Navy PRT (Personal communication, LCDR R. Hernandez, Bureau of Naval Personnel [BUPERS], Washington, D.C., 1997). A 1991 report (Destadio, 1991) suggested a similar lack of fitness among Air Force personnel throughout the 1980s.

Studies of fitness in military women are sparse. An overview of physical fitness in female cadets at the various military academies (Baldi, 1991) suggested that women entering the military academies have been increasingly fit, and that basic training can increase that fitness significantly, especially in those who were less fit at the beginning of training. Consequent to the improvement in performance by women, modifications in the physical fitness tests have been proposed by some branches of the service (Navy, Army) so that men and women will be required to perform more similarly on strength-related tests.

However, injury rate in women both in basic training and field maneuvers is greater than that in men (Jones et al., 1992; Moore, 1996). Jones and coworkers (1992) have studied injuries among men and women in Army basic training over a 10-y period, assessing the factors contributing to injury risk. They have found that women have a higher risk of all types of lower-extremity, musculoskeletal injury than men, including stress fracture of the tibia. This increased risk was associated with higher or lower than average body mass index (BMI), but there was no relationship between injury risk and body fat in women. Previous exercise experience or aerobic



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