Journal Article

Changes in Physical Performance During 21 d of Military Field Training in Warfighters

Tommi Ojanen, Keijo Häkkinen, Tommi Vasankari and Heikki Kyröläinen

in Military Medicine

Volume 183, issue 5-6, pages e174-e181
Published in print May 2018 | ISSN: 0026-4075
Published online February 2018 | e-ISSN: 1930-613X | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/milmed/usx049
Changes in Physical Performance During 21 d of Military Field Training in Warfighters

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Abstract

Introduction

Few studies have reported the amount of physical activity (PA) and its associations to physical performance of warfighters during military field training (MFT). The purpose of this study was to investigate changes in neuromuscular performance and PA among male Finnish Army conscripts during a 21-d MFT and to evaluate their recovery during 4 d after MFT.

Methods

Body composition and physical performance were measured four times during the study (before MFT (PRE), after 12 d (MID), post training (POST) and after 4 d of recovery (RECO)). PA was measured throughout MFT in a group of healthy young male conscripts (n=49) by using a tri-axial accelerometer. The study was approved by the Finnish Defence Forces and was granted ethics approval by the Ethics Committee of the University of Jyväskylä.

Results

Body mass declined significantly from 73.5 ± 8.7 to 71.6 ± 8.2 kg, but it recovered close to the PRE values (73.0 ± 8.3 kg). The same trend was also found in skeletal muscle mass and fat mass. The change in body mass and in skeletal muscle mass correlated negatively with the change in vigorous physical activity (r = −0.374, p = 0.016, and r = −0.337, p = 0.031, respectively). Muscular endurance decreased significantly (p < 0.001) in sit-ups from the PRE (46 ± 9 reps/min) values compared with MID (40 ± 8 reps/min), POST (42 ± 8 reps/min), and RECO (34 ± 11 reps/min) values. Also in push-ups, the declines in the POST (34 ± 10 reps/min) and RECO (34 ± 13 reps/min) values (p < 0.001) from the PRE (40 ± 13 reps/min) and MID (39 ± 12 reps/min) values were observed. There was a significant decrease in a standing long jump in all measurement points MID (220 ± 20 cm), POST (216 ± 20 cm), and RECO (213 ± 20 cm) as compared with the PRE values (229 ± 23 cm, p < 0.001). There was no change in 3.2 km loaded march time between the PRE (23:57 ± 4:12 min:s) and POST (23:44 ± 5:02 min:s) measurement time points. In PA, the total number of steps per day was significantly (p < 0.001) greater during ST (13,722 ± 2,379 steps) and MFT (13,937 ± 2,276 steps) than during garrison days (9,550 ± 2,569 steps). In POST, there was significantly (p < 0.001) more light (1.5–3.0 metabolic equivalent) (2:34:38 ± 0:22:53 h:min:s in ST and 3:03:27 ± 0:23:24 h:min:s in MFT) and moderate (3.0–6.0 metabolic equivalent) (2:12:15 ± 0:23:14 h:min:s in ST and 2:47:59 ± 0:27:23 h:min:s in MFT) PA than in the PRE measurements.

Conclusion

This study demonstrated slight decrements in warfighter physical performance during the 21-d MFT. The conscripts were overloaded during MFT, but 4 d of recovery seemed not to be enough to obtain the PRE measurement values in physical performance. This study also showed changes in the muscular endurance levels and PA during the 21-d MFT. It is important for warfighters to have a good physical fitness level PRE training or combat. As the prolonged MFT may have adverse effects in warfighters muscular endurance and PA levels, it is important to have sufficient recovery time after long MFT to regain combat readiness.

Keywords: Physical performance; Military field training; Activity

Journal Article.  5457 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medicine and Health ; Emergency Medicine ; Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery ; Military Psychology ; Warfare and Defence

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