Purpose: Past investigations indicate that training-related injuries are associated with certain performance-oriented measures of physical fitness and certain lifestyle characteristics. This study examined associations between injuries, direct (physiological) measures of physical fitness, and lifestyle characteristics.
Methods: Subjects were 756 men and 474 women performing the standardized activities involved in U.S. Army Basic Combat Training (BCT). Before BCT, a subsample of subjects (182 men and 168 women) were administered a series of tests that included a treadmill running test (peak VO2), dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (for body composition), several measures of muscle strength, a hamstring flexibility test, and a vertical jump. A questionnaire addressed smoking habits and prior physical activity. All subjects were administered the Army Physical Fitness test consisting of push-ups, sit-ups, and a 3.2-km run. Gender, age, stature, and body mass were obtained from physical examination records. Injuries incurred during BCT were transcribed from medical records; for each medical visit, the diagnosis, anatomical location, disposition (final outcome of visit), and days of limited duty were recorded.
Results: Women had over twice the injury rate of men. For men and women, fewer push-ups, slower 3.2-km run times, lower peak VO2, and cigarette smoking were risk factors for time-loss injury. Among the men only, lower levels of physical activity before BCT and both high and low levels of flexibility were also time-loss injury risk factors. Multivariate analysis revealed that lower peak VO2 and cigarette smoking were independent risk factors for time-loss injury.
Conclusions: Lower aerobic capacity and cigarette smoking were independently associated with a higher likelihood of injury in both men and women during a standardized program of physical training. Further studies are needed to assess associations between injury and body composition and muscular strength.