Less body fat improves physical and physiological performance in army soldiers

Kim Crawford, Katelyn Fleishman, John P Abt, Timothy C Sell, Mita Lovalekar, Takashi Nagai, Jennifer Deluzio, Russell S Rowe, Mark A McGrail, Scott M Lephart
Military Medicine 2011, 176 (1): 35-43
The purpose of this study was to compare physical and physiological fitness test performance between Soldiers meeting the Department of Defense (DoD) body fat standard (< or = 18%) and those exceeding the standard (> 18%). Ninety-nine male 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Soldiers were assigned to group 1: < or = 18% body fat (BF) or group 2: > 18% BE. Groups 1 and 2 had similar amounts of fat-free mass (FFM) (66.8 +/- 8.2 vs. 64.6 +/- 8.0, p = 177). Each subject performed a Wingate cycle protocol to test anaerobic power and capacity, an incremental treadmill maximal oxygen uptake test for aerobic capacity, isokinetic tests for knee flexion/extension and shoulder internal/external rotation strength, and the Army Physical Fitness Test. Results showed group 1: < 18% BF performed significantly better on 7 of the 10 fitness tests. In Soldiers with similar amounts of FFM, Soldiers with less body fat had improved aerobic and anaerobic capacity and increased muscular strength.

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