Differences in physical fitness of male and female recruits in gender-integrated army basic training.

Ran Yanovich, Rachel Evans, Eran Israeli, Naama Constantini, Nurit Sharvit, Drorit Merkel, Yoram Epstein, Daniel S. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

PURPOSE: To evaluate gender differences in physical fitness before and after a 4-month gender-integrated basic training (BT) course and to determine whether this program effectively narrowed the differences between male and female soldiers in physical fitness parameters. METHODS: One hundred and thirty-seven soldiers (109 females and 28 males) successfully completed a 4-month BT course in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The subject's physical fitness was evaluated pre- and post-BT by three laboratory tests [the maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max), the Leonardo Ground Reaction Force Plate, and the Wingate Anaerobic Test (WAnT)] and by the IDF physical fitness test (IDF-PT). RESULTS: Females significantly improved their scores in the IDF-PT and laboratory aerobic tests, whereas males significantly improved only in the IDF-PT. After BT, gender differences narrowed by approximately 4% in all tests except upper body strength. Although fitness improvement after BT was marginally higher in females than males, resulting in a slight narrowing of the gender differences, a significant gender gap in physical fitness still exists after BT. CONCLUSIONS: There was only a small overlap in physical abilities at the beginning of BT, which indicated vast differences in physical fitness between the genders. As expected, integrated combat BT improved physical fitness. Although females demonstrated marginally higher improvement in aerobic capacity, basic physiological gender differences were still evident at the end of the training regimen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S654-659
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Volume40
Issue number11 Suppl
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

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