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Mil Med. 1998 Jun;163(6):398-407.

Longitudinal trends and gender differences in physical fitness and lifestyle factors in career U.S. Navy personnel (1983-1994)

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Health Sciences and Epidemiology Department, Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, CA 92186-5122, USA.


This study examines long-term health and physical readiness trends in the U.S. Navy. We mailed lifestyle questionnaires to all participants in baseline studies between 1983 and 1989 who were still on active duty in 1994. Commands provided body composition and physical readiness test scores for the participants. Two longitudinal cohorts were created: an 8-year sample (N = 640) with matched data from 1986, 1989, and 1994; and an 11-year sample (N = 1,576), with data from 1983 and 1994. Analyses of both cohorts revealed significant improvements in cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, exercise, lean body mass, dietary habits, and sleep, as well as significant decreases in tobacco and alcohol use and job stress. However, hypertension rates, percentage of body fat, and body mass index increased over time. Women's scores were significantly better than men's on a number of factors. Overall, these findings suggest that the Navy's health promotion efforts have had a significant positive effect on the fitness and health behaviors of career Navy men and women.

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