Correlations between Physical Fitness Tests and Performance of Military Tasks: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses
ARMY PUBLIC HEALTH CENTER (PROVISIONAL) ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND MD
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Purpose To help evaluate the Army Physical Fitness Test APFT and ensure a future test is associated with Soldiers performance of common physical job requirements, the USAPHC applied a Systematic Review SR methodology to identify and synthesize published correlations between military task performance and physical fitness tests. Methods A preliminary step to our SR was to identify key military-relevant tasks and physical fitness components of interest. Starting with the Armys Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills WTBDs, twelve task categories were identified, including some tasks performed by both military and civilian occupations e.g., firefighters, police, and athletes. Physical fitness tests were sorted into four physical fitness groups cardiorespiratory endurance e.g., aerobic fitness, muscle strength, muscle endurance, and flexibility. Tests of muscular strength and muscular endurance were further subcategorized into Upper and Lower Body, Core, or Whole Body regions. Physical tests included the APFT events 2-mile run, sit ups, push-ups as well as other equipment and non-equipment physical fitness tests e.g., jump tests, squats, sprints, pull-ups, grip tests, arm lifts, curls, and various extension machine tests. To synthesize the data, a series of meta-analyses provided pooled correlation coefficients for the twelve tasks and eleven physical fitness test groups. Results Flexibility tests were the least frequently identified, while upper body strength tests were most frequently identified in studies that met our inclusion criteria. Correlations with aerobic tests were fairly well studied, with a few notable gaps e.g., the Loaded March task. Pooled r coefficients for specific physical tests e.g., run tests, push-ups, sit-ups, grip tests, and vertical and broad jump tests were also calculated. Of the physical fitness component groups evaluated, aerobic capacity is most strongly correlated across the greatest number of military tasks.
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Military Forces and Organizations