Background: Previous research has shown an inverse relationship between cardiovascular fitness and both absenteeism and health care costs. The documentation of these relationships with law enforcement officers will support the usefulness of providing health promotion programs for this population.
Methods: Data were collected over a one-year period to examine the relationship of physical activity and cardiovascular fitness to absenteeism and medical care claims among law enforcement officers (N = 734).
Results: Analysis of covariance indicated that sedentary officers were absent significantly more often than active officers; also, female officers were absent significantly more than male officers. Although proportionally more female officers than males scored above the 50th percentile on fitness (based on Cooper's norms), increased fitness for females was not related to decreased absenteeism. Increased fitness for male officers was related to decreased absenteeism. Medical care claims for a sub-sample of male officers (N = 363) were lower for more fit and more active officers, although this relationship was nonsignificant.
Discussion: These observational data strengthen the hypothesis that absenteeism levels of physically active officers are lower than those of sedentary officers. For females, the relationship of absenteeism to family issues associated with child care and pregnancy leave in the workplace appears worthy of examination.