| Home | E-Submission | Sitemap | Contact Us |  
Exerc Sci > Volume 28(4); 2019 > Article
Kim and Kim: A Comparative Analysis of Physical Fitness in Korean Police Officers: Focus on Results between 2014 to 2019

Abstract

PURPOSE

Maintaining physical fitness is essential for police officers to perform various physical occupational tasks. However, only a few studies have focused on the physical fitness of Korean police officers. The purpose of this study was to perform a comparative analysis of the annual results of physical fitness tests for Korean police officers between 2014 to 2019.

METHODS

This study analyzed the data of 372 police officers (male: 334, female: 38) including body composition, 100 m sprint, push-ups, sit-ups, and handgrip strength.

RESULTS

In Korean male police officers, the 100 m sprint times and push-up and sit-up counts showed statistically significant differences according to the year of the test (p<.001); in particular, the 100 m sprint times and push-up and sit-up counts were lower in 2019 compared to those from previous years. Among Korean female police officers, only the 100 m sprint showed a statistically significant difference by year (p<.01); similar to the male police officers, the 100 m sprint times were slower in 2019 than those from previous years.

CONCLUSIONS

Our study showed that the physical fitness of Korean police officers decreased over the years. There has especially been a decrease in the physical fitness of male police officers.

INTRODUCTION

The profession of a police officer is physically demanding [1]. Although police officers frequently perform tasks sitting down, they have to quickly chase and apprehend criminals when necessary while carrying protective personal equipment, such as weapons, expandable batons, and body armor [2]. When criminals resist arrest, the officers have to overpower and place them in handcuffs or perform other tasks to protect the general public from danger [2,3]. If police officers cannot perform these tasks, it can have a negative effect on the general public, who depend on them for their safety and protection [4].
Therefore, police officers must be physically fit to successfully perform their duties which involve physical tasks [5-7]. For this reason, Korean police officers undergo an annual physical fitness test; the records are stored and used as a reference for career promotion [8]. Additionally, the range of the interests of sports scientists has recently expanded to include tactical populations such as police officers [9]. These trends can be observed in reports by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) [10-14]. The NSCA developed the ‘Tactical Strength and Conditioning (TSAC) program’ for tactical populations [10], and several studies have been published on the physical fitness of police officers [11-14]. These studies have highlighted the need for education on the importance and positive effects of physical fitness for police officers [5], as well as the need for training programs to improve and maintain physical fitness in police officers [14].
As described above, even though physical fitness is important and emphasized for police officers to perform their duties, there is still limited research on Korean police officers. As a result, unfortunately, it is difficult to even ascertain the status or level of physical fitness in Korean police officers. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study which examined the results of the annual physical fitness tests for Korean police officers. The purpose of this study was to conduct a comparative analysis of the physical fitness tests for Korean police officers over 6 years in 2014-2019.

METHODS

1. Participants

This study included 372 police officers (male: 334, female: 38) who took the physical fitness test between 2014 to 2019 while working at the Daegu Dongbu Police Station in Daegu. The participants were excluded who were dispatched or in training, pregnant or had given birth within the last year, unable to take the test due to an accident, disease, or physical or mental impairment, and unable to participate in the test for other reasons. The male police officers (n =334) had a mean age of 41.8±9.0 years, height 174.1±4.5 cm, weight 76.5±8.8 kg, and body fat percentage of 24.1±4.8%. The female police officers (n =38) had a mean age of 33.9 ±6.8 years, height 163.6±3.6 cm, weight 56.6±7.0 kg, and body fat percentage of 29.3%±4.9%.

2. Body composition

In this study, we measured body composition using a bioelectrical impedance analysis device (InBody270, InBody Co., Ltd., Korea). For precise measurement, the participants were asked to abstain from high-intensity physical activity or exercise, sauna, and caffeine or alcohol consumption the day before the measurements were taken.

3. Physical fitness test

The physical fitness test for the Korean police officers consists of four elements: 100 m sprint, push-ups, crossed-arm sit-ups, and handgrip strength. All procedures and methods for the physical fitness test were based on the manual currently used by the Korean National Police Agency.

1) 100 m sprint

The 100 m sprint was used to assess the participants’ speed and was performed on an athletics track with clearly-marked white lines. The participants took a standing position at the start line and started running on the researcher’s start signal; the time taken to cross the finish line was recorded.

2) Push-up

Push-ups were used to assess the participants’ upper-body endurance. The participants placed their hands at shoulder width with feet together, making a 90° angle with their arms while keeping their body horizontal. The female participants placed their knees on the ground to form a 90° angle. While maintaining a straight line from their heads, the participants bent their arms to bring their body and legs within 5 cm of the mat, and then returned to their original position. Completing this movement was counted as 1 push-up. The participants tried to perform as many push-ups as possible in 1 minute.

3) Sit-up

Sit-ups were used to assess the participants’ abdominal endurance. The participants lay on their backs on a mat with feet about 30 cm apart, knees bent at 90° and crossed both arms over their chest so that their fingertips touched the opposite shoulder. The participants lifted their upper body so that both elbows touched their knees, and then returned to a lying position. One sit-up was counted only when the participant precisely touched the top of both knees with their elbows. The participants tried to perform as many crossed-arm sit-ups as possible in 1 minute.

4) Handgrip strength

Handgrip strength was used to assess the participants’ strength. The participants gripped the handle of a dynamometer (TKK-5401, TAKEI, Japan) at the second knuckle. While maintaining the torso and arm at an angle of 15°, with the elbow extended straight, the participants pulled the dynamometer as hard as possible. During measurements, the participants avoided shaking the dynamometer or bending their elbow. The left and right hands were each measured twice, and the mean of the four measurements was taken as the final handgrip strength.

4. Statistical analysis

The results of the study are presented as mean ±standard deviation (SD). A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to compare physical fitness results by year. In the event of statistically significant differences by year, the Bonferroni method was used for post-hoc testing. The IBM SPSS Statistics ver. 21.0 (IBM Co., Armonk, NY, USA) was used for statistical analysis. The level for statistical significance was set at 0.05.

RESULTS

Table 1 shows the results of the comparative analysis of the physical fitness tests by year for Korean male police officers. There were statistically significant differences according to the year of measurement of the 100 m sprint, push-up, and sit-up results (p< .001). The 100 m sprint times decreased from 2014 to 2017 but became slower from 2018. The push-up repetitions were similar from 2014 to 2017 but decreased from 2018; they decreased even further in 2019. The sit-up repetitions also showed a decrease in 2019 compared to those from 2014-2016. However, handgrip strength showed no statistically significant differences by year (p>.05).
Table 2 shows the results of the comparative analysis of the physical fitness test by year for Korean female police officers. There were statistically significant differences according to the year of measurement for the 100 m sprint (p< .01). Specifically, the 100 m sprint times measured in 2019 were slower than those measured in 2016 and 2017. However, there were no statistically significant differences between years for push-ups, sit-ups, or handgrip strength (p>.05).

DISCUSSION

In this study, we performed a comparative analysis of the annual physical fitness test results for Korean police officers between 2014 and 2019. The results demonstrated that, in 2019, male police officers had slower 100 m sprint times and lower push-up and sit-up counts, and female police officers also had slower 100 m sprint times than those in previous years.
Police officers need to fight against crimes which threaten the lives and property of the general public and therefore experience high stress and fatigue while performing tasks such as arresting and investigating criminals and patrolling to eliminate risk factors; physical fitness is important to successfully cope with these demands [2,6]. For this reason, several studies have reported that police officers need to maintain and improve their physical fitness in order to properly perform occupational tasks and ensure their own safety [5,15].
However, several studies have reported that police officers often fail to maintain the minimum levels of physical fitness and that physical fitness decreased when compared to previous years [16,17]. Lagestad et al. [16] compared the physical fitness of police officers after 16 years of service to when they graduated from the police academy and reported a decrease of 10-32% in the bench press and standing long jump results, with upper body strength showing an especially prominent decline. Sörensen et al. [17] reported that the physical fitness of police officers, measured by push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and maximal oxygen consumption, significantly decreased after 15 years. Although there are some differences in the time of the comparison, measured variables, and methods, the results of these studies are similar to our own.
The main reason why police officers do not maintain or improve physical fitness is likely due to the environment in which they perform their duties. Police officers are exposed to situations with high levels of physical tension and repeated stress [18], and shift work results in irregular sleep patterns, so police officers spend more time sleeping on rest days to compensate for the lack of sleep [19]. These factors prevent police officers from maintaining physical fitness or free time to exercise. Moreover, a large proportion of police work involves riding in a patrol car or sitting down to complete paperwork [20]. Performing sedentary tasks for a long time reduces the time available for exercise and physical activity, and increases body fat [21,22]. Violanti et al. [20] reported that high body fat percentage in police officers was inversely proportional to the number of push-up and sit-up repetitions.
In order to prevent a decrease in the physical fitness of police officers, as observed in this study, regular training programs should be recommended. As an important strategy to prevent a decline in the physical performance of police officers, Lagestad et al. [16] proposed the need to provide opportunities for exercise during work, while Sörensen et al. [17] reported that regular systematic training could help middle-aged police officers maintain physical fitness. Teixeira et al. [9] reported that a regular strength and conditioning program, including power, core, and aerobic fitness, should be implemented for police officers to prevent a decline in performance and maintain physical capacity and occupational duties. Recently, Čvorovićet al. [23] implemented a 12-week regular training program for police trainees and reported significant improvements in push-up and sit-up repetitions. However, the participants in the study by Čvorovićet al. [23] were police trainees participating in an academic course, not currently active police officers. Thus, in future studies, it will be necessary to investigate the effects of regular training programs on currently serving police officers.
Our study had several limitations. First, we only examined police officers working at one police station in Daegu. Additionally, we did not examine the factors that could affect physical fitness, such as frequency of exposure to shift work, nutritional intake, smoking and alcohol consumption, physical activity and exercise participation, or psychological factors (stress and depression). These limitations should be considered in future studies.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of our study demonstrate that the physical fitness of Korean police officers in 2019 has decreased over the years. Male police officers especially showed a decline in various aspects of physical fitness. These changes could potentially interfere with the physical duties that need to be performed by police officers. Therefore, measures are needed to enhance fitness in police officers. It will be necessary to educate Korean police officers on the importance and positive effects of physical fitness and to prepare an environment or system that enables regular training programs to be implemented. Additionally, discussions are needed regarding an appropriate compensation system to encourage police officers to participate in training programs and improve physical fitness.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

AUTHOR CONTRIBUTION

Study design: SK, and JK; Data collection: SK; Data analysis: JK; Data interpretation: SK, and JK; Drafting manuscript: SK, and JK; Revising the manuscript content: JK.

Table 1.
Comparison of physical fitness test results by year for Korean male police officers
2014 (n = 295) 2015 (n = 299) 2016 (n = 316) 2017 (n = 315) 2018 (n = 320) 2019 (n = 327) p Post hoc test
100 m sprint (sec) 15.5 ± 2.0 15.3 ± 1.8 15.1 ± 1.4 14.7 ± 1.7 15.1 ± 1.8 16 ± 1.8 .000* a > c, d, e; b > d; a, b, c, d, e<f
Push-up (reps/min) 43.1 ± 7.3 42.4 ± 6.7 43.3 ± 6.5 42.8 ± 6.6 40.6 ± 6.7 38.5 ± 6.0 .000* a, b, c > e, f; e > f
Sit-up (reps/min) 46.8 ± 5.6 46.4 ± 6.9 46.7 ± 5.8 46.2 ± 6.5 45.6 ± 6.1 44.9 ± 6.0 .001* a, b, c > f
Hand-grip strength (kg) 52.9 ± 6.9 53.3 ± 7.2 54.1 ± 6.3 53.7 ± 5.4 53.7 ± 5.6 54.4 ± 6.4 .058 -

Values are Mean±SD. Tested by one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).

* Significant between group (p<.001); Post hoc test by Bonferroni; a: 2014, b: 2015, c: 2016, d: 2017, e: 2018, f; 2019.

Table 2.
Comparison of physical fitness test results by year for Korean female police officers
2014 (n = 24) 2015 (n = 26) 2016 (n = 34) 2017 (n = 36) 2018 (n = 34) 2019 (n = 35) p Post hoc test
100 m sprint (sec) 18.7 ± 3.2 18.3 ± 2.5 17.5 ± 1.3 17.6 ± 1.6 17.8 ± 1.9 19.1 ± 2.0 .009* c, d<f
Push-up (reps/min) 42.7 ± 4.3 42.3 ± 3.3 42.5 ± 3.6 41.9 ± 3.1 41.4 ± 3.4 40.4 ± 2.7 .094 -
Sit-up (reps/min) 39.1 ± 6.3 39.8 ± 6.5 41.8 ± 6.4 42.2 ± 6.4 40.9 ± 5.7 39.9 ± 5.5 .299 -
Hand-grip strength (kg) 36.4 ± 7.0 36.9 ± 6.1 36.2 ± 5.6 34.9 ± 2.5 34.3 ± 3.5 34.7 ± 3.4 .193 -

Values are Mean±SD. Tested by one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA).

* Significant between group (p<.01); Post hoc test by Bonferroni; a: 2014, b: 2015, c: 2016, d: 2017, e: 2018, f; 2019.

REFERENCES

1. Cocke C, Dawes J, Orr RM. The use of 2 conditioning programs and the fitness characteristics of police academy cadets. J Athl Train 2016; 51(11):887-96.
crossref pmid pmc
2. Schram B, Hinton B, Orr R, Pope R, Norris G. The perceived effects and comfort of various body armour systems on police officers while performing occupational tasks. Ann Occup Environ Med 2018; 30:15.
crossref pmid pmc pdf
3. Tomes C, Orr RM, Pope R. The impact of body armor on physical performance of law enforcement personnel: a systematic review. Ann Occup Environ Med 2017; 29:14.
crossref pmid pmc pdf
4. Plat MJ, Frings-Dresen MH, Sluiter JK. A systematic review of jobspecific workers’ health surveillance activities for fire-fighting, ambulance, police and military personnel. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2011; 84(8):839-57.
crossref pmid pdf
5. Marins EF, David GB, Del Vecchio FB. Characterization of the physical fitness of police officers: a systematic review. J Strength Cond Res 2019; 33(10):2860-74.
crossref pmid
6. Shusko M, Benedetti L, Korre M, Eshleman EJ, Farioli A, et al. Recruit fitness as a predictor of police academy graduation. Occup Med 2017; 67(7):555-61.
crossref pdf
7. Violanti JM, Fekedulegn D, Andrew ME, Hartley TA, Charles LE, et al. The impact of perceived intensity and frequency of police work occupational stressors on the cortisol awakening response (CAR): Findings from the BCOPS study. Psychoneuroendocrinology 2017; 75:124-31.
crossref pmid
8. Kim P. A Study on improvement plan of physical examination system of police officers. Korean J Sport Sci 2017; 24(4):25-36.

9. Teixeira J, Monteiro LF, Silvestre R, Beckert J, Massuça LM. Age-related influence on physical fitness and individual on-duty task performance of Portuguese male non-elite police officers. Biol Sport 2019; 36(2):163-70.
crossref pmid pmc
10. National Strength and Conditioning Association. NSCA’s Essentials of Tactical Strength and Conditioning. Human Kinetics, Inc 2017; 2-3.

11. Crawley AA, Sherman RA, Crawley WR, Cosio-Lima LM. Physical fitness of police academy cadets: baseline characteristics and changes during a 16-week academy. J Strength Cond Res 2016; 30(5):1416-24.
crossref pmid pmc
12. Lockie RG, Dawes JJ, Orr RM, Stierli M, Dulla JM, et al. Analysis of the effects of sex and age on upper- and lower-body power for law enforcement agency recruits before academy training. J Strength Cond Res 2018; 32(7):1968-74.
crossref pmid
13. Rossomanno CI, Herrick JE, Kirk SM, Kirk EP. A 6-month supervised employer-based minimal exercise program for police officers improves fitness. J Strength Cond Res 2012; 26(9):2338-44.
crossref pmid
14. Orr RM, Dawes JJ, Pope R, Terry J. Assessing differences in anthropometric and fitness characteristics between police academy cadets and incumbent officers. J Strength Cond Res 2018; 32(9):2632-41.
crossref pmid
15. Maupin D, Robinson J, Wills T, Irving S, Schram B, et al. Profiling the metabolic fitness of a special operations police unit. J Occup Health 2018; 60(5):356-60.
crossref pmid pmc
16. Dillern T. Changes in police officers’ physical performance after 16 years of work. Int J Pol Sci Manag 2014; 16(4):308-17.

17. Sörensen L, Smolander J, Louhevaara V, Korhonen O, Oja P. Physical activity, fitness and body composition of Finnish police officers: a 15-year follow-up study. Occup Med 2000; 50(1):3-10.
crossref pdf
18. Hartley TA, Burchfiel CM, Fekedulegn D, Andrew ME, Knox SS, et al. Associations between police officer stress and the metabolic syndrome. Int J Emerg Ment Health 2011; 13(4):243-56.
pmid pmc
19. Garbarino S, Nobili L, Balestra V, Cordelli A, Ferrillo F. Sleep disorders and day sleepiness in a population of shift workers of the state police. G Ital Med Lav Ergon 1999; 21(1):13-9.
pmid
20. Violanti JM, Fekedulegn D, Andrew ME, Hartley TA, Charles LE, et al. The impact of perceived intensity and frequency of police work occupational stressors on the cortisol awakening response (CAR): Findings from the BCOPS study. Psychoneuroendocrinology 2017; 75:124-31.
crossref pmid
21. Larsen BA, Allison MA, Kang E, Saad S, Laughlin GA, et al. Associations of physical activity and sedentary behavior with regional fat deposition. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2014; 46(3):520-8.
crossref pmid pmc
22. Smith L, McCourt O, Sawyer A, Ucci M, Marmot A, et al. A review of occupational physical activity and sedentary behaviour correlates. Occup Med 2016; 66(3):185-92.
crossref
23. Čvorović A, Kukić F, Orr RM, Dawes JJ, Jeknić V, et al. Impact of a 12- week postgraduate training course on the body composition and physical abilities of police trainees. J Strength Cond Res 2018.
crossref
Editorial Office
The Korean Society of Exercise Physiology
Department of Physical Education, Dongduk Women's University. 60 Hwarangro 13gil, Sungbuk-gu, Seoul, 02748, Korea.
TEL: +82-2-940-4507   E-mail: lovebuffalo@gmail.com
Editorial Assistant: Jinkyung Cho +82-10-5036-7340
About |  Browse Articles |  Current Issue |  For Authors and Reviewers
Copyright © The Korean Society of Exercise Physiology. All rights reserved.