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Law enforcement officers perform physically demanding tasks that generally remain constant as they age. However, there is limited population-specific research on age, gender and normative fitness values for law enforcement officers as opposed to those of the general population. The purpose of this study was to profile the current level of fitness for highway patrol officers based on age and gender and provide percentile ranking charts unique to this population.
Retrospective data for six-hundred and thirty-one state troopers (♂ = 597; mean age = 39.52 ± 8.09 yrs; mean height = 180.72 ± 7.06 cm; mean weight = 93.66 ± 15.72 kg: ♀ = 34; mean age = 36.20 ± 8.45 years; mean height = 169.62 ± 6.65 cm; mean weight = 74.02 ± 14.91 kg) collected in 2014–2015 were provided for analysis. Data included demographic (age), anthropometric (height and weight), and select fitness (VJ, push-ups, sit ups, isometric leg/back strength, isometric grip strength and 20 m shuttle run test) information.
There were generally significant differences between genders for all anthropometric and fitness measures, most consistently in the 30–39 age groups. While there was a general decline in push-up and shuttle run performance in female officers, these results did not reach significance. For male officers, there were significant differences between the 20–29 year-old age group and the 30–39, 40–49 and 50–59 year-old groups with the younger group performing better in VJ, push-ups, sit ups and number of shuttle runs than the older groups. There were no differences in isometric grip strength and leg back dynamometer measures between age groups.
Male officers tended to be heavier, taller and perform significantly better than female officers in all measures bar sit-ups. While there appeared to be a general decline in certain physical characteristics across genders with increasing age the notable differences were between the youngest male age group (20–29 years) and all other male age groups with a potential reason being the lack of fitness requirements once typically younger cadets leave the academy. Percentile rankings for the assessed measures were found to have elements very specific to this population when compared to the general population and those provided in this paper can be used to inform future profiling and research in this population.
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