Association between physical fitness and psychological distress among Brazilian armed force personnel
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Previous research suggests that physical fitness moderates the adverse effects of stressful life events. However, the relation between fitness and psychological distress needs to be explored, especially in armed force personnel. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between physical fitness and psychological distress among Brazilian armed force personnel. In this cross-sectional study, we measured physical fitness and psychological distress of 1252 subjects, using, respectively, field tests and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). After adjusting for confounders, statistically significant direct associations (p < 0.05) between physical fitness and psychological distress were found. Low levels of muscle endurance (OR 1.65; 95% CI 1.2–2.3) and combined cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle endurance (OR 1.91; 95% CI 1.2–3.0) were associated with greater psychological distress in the overall sample. In the operational group, low levels of muscle endurance (OR 1.81; 95% CI 1.2–2.8), cardiorespiratory fitness (OR 2.09; 95% CI 1.2–3.6) and combined cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle endurance (OR 2.70; 95% CI 1.4–5.1) were also associated with greater psychological distress. On the other hand, no significant (p > 0.05) association was found for the non-operational group. Low levels of physical fitness were associated with greater psychological distress among armed force personnel, especially among those with operational status. These findings suggest that physical fitness is not only relevant for military functions but also for mental health.
KeywordsMilitary personnel Mental health Cardiorespiratory fitness Common mental disorders
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
All participants provided written informed consent after being informed about the protocols and objectives of the present study. This was approved by the research ethics committee of the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
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