The Importance of Physical Fitness for Injury Prevention: Part 1

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Knapik JJ 15(1). 123 - 127 (Journal Article)

Physical fitness can be defined as a set of attributes that allows the ability to perform physical activity. The attributes or components of fitness were identified by testing large numbers of individuals on physical performance tests (e.g., sit-ups, push-ups, runs, pull-ups, rope climbs, vertical jump, long jumps), and using statistical techniques to find tests that seem to share common performance requirements. These studies identified strength, muscular endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, coordination, balance, flexibility, and body composition as important fitness components. Military studies have clearly shown that individuals with lower levels of cardiorespiratory endurance or muscular endurance are more likely to be injured and that improving fitness lowers injury risk. Those who are more fit perform activity at a lower percentage of their maximal capability and so can perform the task for a longer period of time, fatigue less rapidly, recover faster, and have greater reserve capacity for subsequent tasks. Fatigue alters movement patterns, putting stress on parts of the body unaccustomed to it, possibly increasing the likelihood of injury. Soldiers should develop and maintain high levels of physical fitness, not only for optimal performance of occupational tasks but also to reduce injury risk.

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