Police fitness: The effects of activities, service, limitations, and programs on fitness and retirement

Jeffrey Craig Lee

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess officers' fitness or aerobic power using non-exercise VO2 max scores, perceptions of their fitness and activity levels, and perceptions of their ability to enjoy physical activities in retirement in a sample of local law enforcement officers in northwest Florida. The following research questions were posed: (1) What are the fitness assessment levels by non-exercise measurements of VO2 max for participants? (2) What are the composite, independent effects of the variables, and amount of variance explained by years of law enforcement service, self-reported fitness, and activity limitations on participants' fitness scores as assessed by non-exercise VO2 max scores? (3) What are the frequencies and cross tabulations for participants' perceived fitness levels and non-exercise VO2 max levels? (4) What are the frequencies and cross tabulations for participants' perceived ability to enjoy physical activities in retirement and VO2 max levels? (5) What are the frequencies and cross tabulations for participants from agencies with fitness programs and VO 2 max levels? (6) What are the frequencies and cross tabulations for participants from agencies that sponsor sports programs and VO2 max levels? (7) What are the frequencies and cross tabulations for participants' perceived ability to enjoy physical activities in retirement and non-exercise VO2 max levels? (8) What are the frequencies and cross tabulations for participants from agencies with fitness programs and non-exercise VO 2 max levels? (9) What are the frequencies and cross tabulations for participants from agencies that sponsor sports programs and non-exercise VO2 max levels? Six local law enforcement agencies in northwest Florida were randomly selected and surveyed. The researcher analyzed officers' attitudes toward fitness programs, calculated officers' body mass index and non-exercise VO 2 max fitness scores, conducted a factor analysis, applied a multiple linear regression, and analyzed cross tabulations. Findings indicated that local law enforcement officers in northwest Florida think that physical fitness is important. Furthermore, officers believe that agencies should require or sponsor fitness programs. However, most agencies do not have fitness comprehensive fitness programs; in fact, the few programs in place were described as voluntary and ineffective. Most officers' fitness levels were categorized as having "very poor" or "poor" fitness scores. There were very few officers categorized as having "excellent" fitness scores and no officers were "superior." However, more officers with higher fitness scores reported an ability to participate in physical activities they would like to enjoy in retirement than did officers with lower fitness scores.