Profiling the Metabolic Fitness of a Special Operations Police Unit

Daniel Maupin, Jeremy Robinson, Thomas Wills, Shane Irving, Ben Schram, Rob Marc Orr

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Background: For specialist police force officers, who have higher occupational demands than general police, a high level of fitness is vital to their task performance and mission success. Possessing a high level of fitness, particularly metabolic fitness, allows specialist units to successfully complete job tasks safely and can help mitigate injury and reinjury risk. Little research has been performed that profiles the metabolic fitness in specialist police and analyzes how these values change over time. Purpose: The objectives of this study were to profile and track the aerobic fitness of a specialist police unit over the course of a calendar year to establish a reliable metabolic fitness profile. Methods: Following body weight measurements, specialist police officers (male: n=47) completed the 20m Progressive Shuttle Run Test (PSRT) from which VO2 max was estimated via number of shuttles completed using the equation outlined by Leger et al. The tests were conducted on two separate days 13 months apart. During the calendar year, the unit's Certified Strength and Conditioning coach implemented their regular training program. Paired sample t-tests were performed to determine differences between PSRT results with alpha set at 0.05 a prior. Effect sizes were calculated, by dividing the difference between the means by the pooled standard deviation, for between group comparisons for body weight, PSRT results, and VO2 max Results: There were no significant (p=.116) differences (mean difference=0.40±1.70kg) in body weight between the initial measures (mean=88.84±8.25kg) and the final measure (mean=89.24±8.77kg) 13 months later. PSRT results increased significantly (p< .005) between the initial (mean=72.62±11.76 shuttles) and final assessments (77.51±11.46 shuttles), with a mean increase of 4.89 (± 2.94) shuttles and a small effect size (d=0.42). The mean estimated VO2 max of the specialist police unit was 51.06±3.61 ml/min/kg following the first assessment, and 52.56±3.46 ml/min/kg following the second assessment. This difference was significant (p< .001), with a mean difference of 1.19±1.27 ml/min/kg and a small effect size (d=0.23). Conclusion(s): Elite police forces have a higher metabolic fitness than the general population and general duties police officers. This population possesses a level of fitness that is on par with, and even surpasses that of, elite level athletics. Acquiring and maintaining this fitness level is imperative for their operational success and preventing injuries. This research suggests that when engaging specialist police officers in rehabilitation, metabolic fitness should be prioritized as a key return to work measure. Implications: Clinicians will be able to utilize this information in their treatment and performance training of specialist police personnel. By understanding the high level of metabolic fitness this population possess, as well as the importance to their overall job performance, clinicians will be able to effectively prioritize treatment options as well as implement exercises at a sufficient intensity level.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
EventWorld Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress 2019: WCPT 2019 - Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
Duration: 10 May 201913 May 2019


ConferenceWorld Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress 2019
Abbreviated titleWCPT2019
Internet address


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