Loss of Fitness in Serving Law Enforcement Officers: A Critical Review

Kyoshi Goad, Corey Myers, Rob Marc Orr, Ben Schram, Christian Zekic, James Dawes

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The purpose of this critical review was to 1) compare fitness levels amongst incumbent police and police recruits and 2) identify whether changes in police officer fitness levels can be attributed to age or occupational factors.


A systematic search of four databases was performed using relevant key search terms. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to each study to determine those included in this review. The Downs and Black Critical Appraisal tool was used to assess the quality of evidence with Krippendorff’s Alpha (k) used to determine the level of agreement between raters. The final results were assessed according to the Kennelly Grading System.

Kennelly grades for the articles included in this study ranged from 57% to 85%. With a mean score of 72.16%, the overall grade for these articles was considered ‘good’. In total, eight articles were graded as ‘good’ while four were ‘fair’. The inter-rater level of agreement was k=0.47. Body fat percent was reported by one article showing an increase of 5.1% in male and 4.6% in female incumbent officers over a 12.5-year period. Aerobic capacity was reported by two articles which used a different performance measure. One article found a decrease of 4.4ml/kg-1/min-1 in male incumbent officers compared to male recruits. The other article reported an improvement in 1.5-mile run times of 1.7min for male and 0.47min for female incumbent officers compared to recruits. One article reported on anaerobic capacity showing an improvement of 2.7sec for female incumbent officers during the 300m run, while male incumbent officers performed 7.7sec slower when compared with recruits. Bench press strength was reported by two articles. One article compared male and female recruits to incumbent officers, where female officers and male officers were stronger by an average of 4.8kg and 13.6kg, respectively. The other article showed that female incumbent officers performed 12.4kg less and male officers performed 2.9kg less than recruits. Sit-up performance was reported by two articles. When incumbent officers were compared to gender matched recruits, females performed 6.9 reps less and males performed 7.1 reps less. Push-up performance was reported by two articles. One showed a decrease of 3.4reps among incumbent police without gender comparisons, while one showed a decrease of 18.4reps for female and 12.5reps for male incumbent officers compared to recruits.

Incumbent police officers appear to lose fitness throughout their careers. Fitness measures, including sit-ups and push-ups were found to decrease while body fat percentage was found to increase. This loss of fitness may be independent of age. Police recruit training appears to have a positive effect on multiple fitness measures including an increase in sit-up repetition and decrease in body fat percentage. In general, police recruits were shown to perform better across most fitness measures when compared to incumbent police officers, regardless of gender.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2018
Event2018 Rocky Mountain American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting - University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, United States
Duration: 6 Apr 20187 Apr 2018


Conference2018 Rocky Mountain American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting
Abbreviated title2018 RMACSM Annual Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityColorado Springs
Internet address


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