Cameron S. Mackey, Quincy R. Johnson, J. Jay Dawes & Jason M. DeFreitas Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK

The Air Force physical fitness assessment (PFA) is used to determine the overall fitness of their military personnel. It is currently unknown to what extent Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets PFA scores are affected by summer break. PURPOSE: To determine if significant changes in cadet physical performance occur after a ~3-month summer break when training is not mandatory. METHODS: Male (n = 28) and female (n = 10) Air Force ROTC cadets performed the PFA (abdominal circumference, 1-minute pushups, 1-minute sit-ups, and 1.5-mile run) in the late spring (April) and early fall (August). Cadets were split into two groups depending on whether they participated in field training over the summer [FT; n = 12 (male = 6, female = 6)] or did not [NFT; n = 26 (male = 22, female = 4)] to determine if engaging in field training had any effect on performance retention. RESULTS: Significant time × group interactions were observed for abdominal circumference (p= 0.02) and run time (p= 0.03). Pairwise comparisons revealed no significant differences between the FT and NFT groups (p= 0.09-0.91). Paired samples t-tests indicated that while the FT group did not differ between the spring and fall time points (p = 0.24), the NFT groups abdominal circumference significantly decreased (p≤ 0.001). Collapsing groups, there was a main effect for time (p= 0.05) in which cadets had a significantly larger abdominal circumference in the spring compared to the fall semester. No significant difference between the FT and NFT groups for run time were observed, however, cadets ran the 1.5 mile run significantly faster (p≤ 0.001) in the spring compared to the fall semester. No time × group interactions were observed for pushups (p= 0.12), sit-ups (p=0.33), or composite score (p= 0.08). Main effects for time were observed for pushups (p= 0.02), sit-ups (p= 0.02), and composite score (p≤ 0.001) in which cadets scored higher in the spring compared to the fall semester. CONCLUSION: The absence of mandatory physical training over summer break may significantly decrease a cadets’ performance on the PFA. In addition, it appears that even the inclusion of field training for some cadets was not enough to prevent the detraining that took place over summer break.

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