Nearly 3% of 13,024 police officers have failed to pass their compulsory fitness test, and of those 3% who failed, 70% of them were women (according to a news article published online at BBC News UK which looked at figures provided by 27 forces under the Freedom of Information Act.)
Compulsory police fitness testing for those involved in officer safety training was introduced only last year (2014) in England and Wales for police officers, and what could be missing from their training in preparation for the fitness test, is Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT).
Biologically women have smaller lungs and airways and weaker respiratory muscles, which makes breathing during exercise much harder work. This could be a contributing factor in fitness levels in women, and why more women than men failed the police fitness test.
The study that discovered women really do get more exhausted during exercise than men, ‘Physiological mechanisms of sex differences in exertional dyspnea: Role of neural respiratory motor drive’ revealed that “because of a woman’s smaller size, when she is exercising, her brain needs to send stronger electrical signals to the respiratory muscles, and specifically the diaphragm, than does a man’s in the same situation.”
This revelation that women are more short of breath than men during exercise because their respiratory muscles are more active does not mean that there’s no hope for women. On the contrary, all is not lost because women – in fact all of us – can influence the strength and stamina of our breathing, by exercising our breathing muscles with POWERbreathe.
By incorporating POWERbreathe respiratory muscle training into fitness training 4 – 6 weeks in advance of the police fitness test, women can start off with an advantage as opposed to feeling disadvantaged because of their physiology. By taking just 30 breaths twice a day through POWERbreathe against the adjustable resistance we can all improve our breathing strength and stamina, and for women preparing for their police fitness test, this would help their performance in the Shuttle Run Test, and ultimately during any prolonged foot chases and foot patrols.
Read more about incorporating POWERbreathe IMT into police fitness training, or if you’re a police officer and are already using POWERbreathe, then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter pages as we’d appreciate your feedback.