Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Police officer physical fitness to work: A case for health and fitness training

Ciara Losty, Emyr Williams, Peter Gossman



There is no reference point currently available to the Irish police force (An Garda Síochána) for measurement of baseline physical fitness or for tracking its current members, as no such data exists. Currently there is no defined health and fitness policy or strategy following a trainee Irish police force two year training period. Measurements of the various health-related components of physical fitness have been developed and, in some cases, standardised, with good to excellent accuracy and reliability (American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM, 2011), as physiological measures (as a proxy for actual physical fitness) with predictive accuracy of an individual’s health outcomes better than physical activity recall (Bovet et al., 2007).  These measures were utilised within this research to ascertain if there were fitness changes within a group of Irish police force trainees during their period in college training.  An improvement was predicted for the trainee group that was at odds with the actual findings.  The focus of this particular study is to provide the information to establish if there is a need for mandatory health and fitness testing (while allowing for individual differences) for this unique Irish work force.


Police force; Health and fitness testing


American College of Sports Medicine (2011). Available at: (accessed October 2015).

American College of Sports Medicine (2014). Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 9th edition, Baltimore, Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins.

American Heart Association (2015). Understating blood pressure Available at:, (accessed March 2015).

Ashford, B., Biddle, S. & Goudas, M. (1993). Participation in community sports centres: motives and predictors of enjoyment. Journal of Sports Science, 11, 249-256.

Austin, J. T., & Vancouver, J. B. (1996). Goal constructs in psychology: Structure, process, and content. Psychological Bulletin, 120, 338–375.

Bates, H. (2006). Daily Physical Activity for Children and Youth A Review and Synthesis of the Literature, Alberta Education, Learning and Teaching Resources Branch. Available at: (accessed June 2015).

Beattie, S., Hardy, L., & Woodman, T. (2015). A longitudinal examination of the interactive effects of goal importance and self-efficacy upon multiple life goal progress. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 47, 201-206.

Bovet P., Auguste, R. & Burdette, H. (2007). Strong inverse association between physical fitness and overweight in adolescents: a large school-based survey, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 4, 24.

Boyce, R.W., Jones, G.R., Schendt, K.E., Lloyd, C.L. & Boone, E.L. (2009). Longitudinal changes in strength of police officers with gender comparisons. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23, 2411-2418.

Boyce, W. R., Ciulla, S., Jones, R. G., Boon, E., L, Elliott, M. L., & Combs, S. C. (2008). Physical Fitness Comparison of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Fire and Police Departments. International Journal of J Exercise Science 1, 125-135.

Bullock, T. (2007). Police officer injury study. VML Insurance programs, Law Enforcement Newsletter, 1, 2.

Caspersen, C.J., Powell, K.E. & Christensen, G.M. (1985). Physical activity, exercise and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public Health Reports, 100, 126-131.

Center for Disease Control. (2007). US Physical Activity Statistics. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: (accessed May 2015).

Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research (2000). Common Questions Regarding Physical Fitness Tests, Standards, and Programs for Law Enforcement Dallas, TX. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Defence Forces Ireland n.d. Defence Forces Fitness Test. Available at: (accessed August, 2015).

Friel, S., Nic Gabhainn, S. and Kelleher, C. (1999). The National Health and Lifestyles Surveys. Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition (SLÁN) and the Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Survey 1998, Department of Health and Children. Dublin: The Stationery Office.

Garda Representative Association: Available at: Listed Salary Scales Available at: (accessed May 2015).

Get Ireland Active Guidelines. (2013) Physical Activity Guidelines. Available at (accessed June, 2015).

Gettman, L. R. (1998). Occupational related fitness and exercise adherence. In R.K. Dishman (Ed.), Exercise Adherence: Its impact on public health (pp. 352).

Guffey, E. J., Larson, G. J. & Lasley, J. (2015). Police officer fitness, diet, lifestyle and its relationship to duty performance and injury, Journal of Legal Issues and Cases in Business, Available at (accessed September 2015).

Johnson, B. (2001). Toward a new classification of nonexperimental quantitative research. Educational Researcher, 3, 3–14.

Kelleher, C., Nic Gabhainn, S., Friel, S., Corrigan, H., Nolan, G., Sixsmith, J., Walsh, O. & Cooke, M. (2003). The National Health and Lifestyle Surveys: Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition (SLÁN) and the Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Survey 2002, Department of Health and Children. Dublin: Government Publications. Available at: (accessed June 2015).

Koley, S. (2006). Association of Cardio respiratory Fitness, Body Composition and Blood Pressure in Collegiate Population of Amritsar. The Internet Journal of Biological Anthropology. 1 1.

Lee, J.C. (2003). Police fitness: The effects of activities, service, limitations, and programs on fitness and retirement. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Southern.

Luke, A., Philpott, J., Brett, K., Cruz, L., Lun, V., Prasad, N., Zetaruk, M. (2004). Physical inactivity in children and adolescents: CASM AdHoc Committee on Children's Fitness. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, 14, 261-6.

Martínez-Vizcaíno, V. & Sánchez-López, M (2008). Relationship Between Physical Activity and Physical Fitness in Children and Adolescents, Revesta Espanola Cardiologia, 61, 108-11.

McGill, S.M., Frost, D., Lam, T., Findlay, T., Darby, K. & Andersen, J. (2013). Fitness and movement quality of emergency task force police officers: A database with comparison to populations of emergency services personnel, athletes and the general public. International Journal Industrial Ergonomics, 43, 146–153.

Murtagh, E., Murphy, M., Murphy, N., Woods, C., & Lane, A. (2014). Stay Active: the physical activity, ageing and health study. Dublin: CARDI and Mary Immaculate College.

New Zealand Police (n.d.): Police Entry Requirements and Assessments Available at: (accessed March 2015).

Quigley, A. (2008). Fit for Duty? The Need for Physical Fitness Programs for Law Enforcement Officers Adrienne Quigley, Arlington County, Virginia, Police Department; and IACP Available at: at (accessed March 2015).

Ryan, R.M., Frederick, C.M., Lepes, D., Rubio, N. & Sheldon, K. (1997). Intrinsic motivation and exercise adherence. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 28, 335-354.

Sallis, J.F., Haskell, W.L., Fortmann, S.P., Vranizan, C.B. & Solomon, D.S. (1986). Predictors of adoption and maintenance of physical activity in a community sample. Preventive Medicine, 15, 331-346.

Sheets, S. (2012). Fitness and the Police Officer. Journal of Law enforcement, 3.

Stevens, J. (1996). Applied multivariate statistics for the social sciences (3rd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Violanti, J. (2007). Dying from the Job: The Mortality Risk for Police Officers. Available at: (accessed June, 2013).


Copyright (c) 2017 Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.