Military fitness of young South African adults: Does it comply with requirements?

  • R Malan
  • L Chapman
  • PS Wood
Keywords: Fitness, military, male, female


The fitness of today's young people is reported to be at a very low level, and this is disconcerting considering that some are needed as military recruits but will not be accepted if they do not pass the military fitness tests. The aims of this study were to investigate the pass rate of young adults (n=41) in the standard South African National Defence Force (SANDF) fitness test, and to establish whether the pass rate of the male (n=31) and female (n=10) participants differed significantly. A cross- sectional case report design was used as the research method. All participants aged 18.0 to 22.9 years underwent tests for body composition, handgrip strength, vertical jump and multistage shuttle run. After a 48-hour rest period the SANDF tests were carried out. For analysis the descriptive statistics and the non-parametric Mann-Whitney U-Test were used. The p-value was set at 0.05. The following results were obtained: 85.4% of the cohort failed the test, of that 90.6% of the males (m) failed and 60.0% of the females (f) failed. Significant differences (p<0,01) were found between the male and female participants in their height (m=171.9 m; f=164.2 m); weight (m=76.9 kg; f=63.6 kg); percentage body fat (m=19,2%; f=28.0%); explosive power (m= 1254.5 watt; f=947.1 watt); handgrip dynamometer strength (m=99.4 kg; f=67.9 kg); and SANDF passing scores (p≤0.05) (m=2 006; f=2 567). No significant differences were observed on the indirect relative Vo2max reading (m=41.7 ml/kg/min; f=38.2 ml/kg/min); body mass index (m=24.3 kg/m²; f=23.5 kg/m²); and the sit-and-reach test (m=33.6 cm; f=36.5 cm). It was concluded that female participants performed better than their male counterparts but that all the young people tested did not comply with the fitness requirements of the SANDF. As the majority of the cohort complied with the normal limits set for the general fitness tests, it was concluded that the level of fitness needed to pass the SANDF fitness test was higher than the level of fitness prescribed for the general population.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2411-6939