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Physical Fitness Information
What is physical fitness?
Physical fitness is a health status pertaining to the individual officer having the physiological readiness to perform maximum physical effort when required.
Physical fitness consists of three areas:
- Aerobic capacity or cardiovascular endurance pertaining to the heart and vascular system's capacity to transport oxygen. It is also a key area for heart disease in that low aerobic capacity is a risk factor.
- Strength pertains to the ability of muscles to generate force. Upper body strength and abdominal strength are important areas in that the low strength levels have a bearing on upper torso and lower back disorders.
- Flexibility pertains to the range of motion of the joints and muscles. Lack of lower back flexibility is a major risk area for lower back disorders.
Why is fitness important as a job related element for law enforcement officers?
It has been well documented that law enforcement personnel (as an occupational class) have serious health risk problems in terms of cardiovascular disease, lower back disorders, and obesity. Law enforcement agencies have the responsibility of minimizing known risk. Physical fitness is a health domain which can minimize the “known” health risks for law enforcement officers. Physical fitness has been demonstrated to be a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ). Job analysis that account for physical fitness have demonstrated that fitness areas are underlying factors determining the physiological readiness to perform a variety of critical physical tasks. These three fitness areas have also been shown to be predicative of job performance ratings, sick time, and number of commendations of police officers. Data also shows that the fitness level is predicative of trainability and academy performance.
Physical fitness can be an important area for minimizing liability. The unfit officer is less able to respond fully to strenuous physical activity. Consequently, the risk of not performing physical duties is increased.