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Psychomotor performance of Polish Air Force cadets after 36 hours of survival training

University of Physical Education in Warsaw, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport in Biala Podlaska, Poland
Mossakowski Medical Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
[b]Introduction[/b]. The preparation of Polish Air Force cadets for survival in isolation is a necessary element of their training, to demonstrate just how difficult can be the conditions they could encounter in a combat situation. Objective. The aim of the research was to assess the effect of long-term survival training on selected coordination motor skills in Air Force cadets. [b]Materials and method[/b]. Fifteen air force cadets aged 19.6±0.3 years exercised for 36 hours during survival training without the possibility to sleep. They were examined 4 times: Day 1 – before effort (training), Day 2 – after 24 hours training, Day 3 – directly after 36 hours training, Day 4 – next day, after an all night rest. They were examined for shooting and reaction time, the ability to maintain body balance, running motor adjustment, handgrip force differentiation, and on Days 1 and 3, exercise capacity was evaluated with a 1 mile walking test. [b]Results[/b]. The survival training resulted in significant decreases in maximum handgrip strength, corrected 50% max handgrip, maintenance of body balance and heart rate. No changes occurred in reaction time, running motor adjustment and shooting performance. Overnight rest did not result in recovery of any of the examined factors to the values observed on Day 1. [b]Conclusion[/b]. Survival training combined with sleep deprivation mostly affected peripheral factors depending on strong action from both muscles and nervous system, whereas complex tasks involving short-term central alertness and moderate exertion were maintained. In order to improve performance, more endurance strength training, if possible combined with sleep deprivation, should be introduced in military training.