Physical Fitness as a Moderator of Cognitive Work Capacity and Fatigue Onset under Sustained Combat-Like Operations
Technical rept. Aug 1982-Mar 1983
ARMY RESEARCH INST FOR THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES ALEXANDRIA VA
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A study was devised to investigate the role of physical fitness in moderating both cognitive work capacity and fatigue onset under sustained combat operations. Sixteen male ROTC cadets were followed through a two-and-a-half-day Pre Ranger Evaluation exercise. Prior to the actual start of the exercise the cadets overall level of physical fitness was assessed by using five fitness indices Harvard Step Test, chinups, pushups, situps, and two-mile run. Cognitive performance and subjective measures of fatigue state were assessed at regular intervals before, during, and one day after the exercise. The results suggest that fitness may attenuate decrements in cognitive work capacity for certain tasks requiring prolonged mental effort, particularly as the cumulative effects of sleep loss and other stressors begin to mount. Similarly, the results of this study suggest that as overall stress levels increase, fitness may have a beneficial effect in moderating fatigue rate. Fitness did not significantly enhance the recovery process with respect to cognitive work capacity, and actually appeared to hinder recovery from fatigue. Keywords Cognitive performance Fatigue level Sleep deficit Stress Recovery rate.
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Stress Physiology