Relationship Between Body Fat and Physical Fitness in Army ROTC Cadets

Carly L Steed, Benjamin R Krull, Amy L Morgan, Robin M Tucker, Mary-Jon Ludy
Military Medicine 2016, 181 (9): 1007-12
The Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), including timed push-ups, sit-ups, and run, assesses physical performance for the Army. Percent body fat is estimated using height and circumference measurements. The objectives of the study were to (a) compare the accuracy of height and circumference measurements to other, more accepted, body fat assessment methods and (b) determine the relationships between body composition and APFT results. Participants included Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets (n = 11 males, 2 females, 21.6 ± 3.5 years) from a midwestern university). At one visit, percent body fat was assessed using height and circumference measurements, air-displacement plethysmography, and bioelectrical impedance analysis. APFT results were provided by the ROTC director. All assessment methods for percent body fat were strongly associated (r ≥ 0.7, p < 0.01), implying that height and circumference measurement is a practical tool to estimate percent body fat of ROTC cadets. Total APFT score was not associated with any body fat assessment method. Push-up number was negatively associated with percent body fat by all assessment methods (r ≥ -0.8, p = 0.001), although run time was positively associated (r ≥ 0.6, p < 0.05). This suggests that percent body fat may be an important variable in determining or improving cardiovascular and muscular endurance, but not APFT performance.

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