Physical fitness is a pillar of U.S. Air Force (USAF) readiness and ensures that Airmen can fulfill their assigned mission and be fit to deploy in any environment. The USAF assesses the fitness of service members on a periodic basis, and discharge can result from failed assessments. In this study, a 21-feature dataset was analyzed related to 223 active-duty Airmen who participated in a comprehensive mental and social health survey, body composition assessment, and physical performance battery. Graphical analysis revealed pass/fail trends related to body composition and obesity. Logistic regression and limited-capacity neural network algorithms were then applied to predict fitness test performance using these biomechanical and psychological variables. The logistic regression model achieved a high level of significance (p < 0.01) with an accuracy of 0.84 and AUC of 0.89 on the holdout dataset. This model yielded important inferences that Airmen with poor sleep quality, recent history of an injury, higher BMI, and low fitness satisfaction tend to be at greater risk for fitness test failure. The neural network model demonstrated the best performance with 0.93 accuracy and 0.97 AUC on the holdout dataset. This study is the first application of psychological features and neural networks to predict fitness test performance and obtained higher predictive accuracy than prior work. Accurate prediction of Airmen at risk of failing the USAF fitness test can enable early intervention and prevent workplace injury, absenteeism, inability to deploy, and attrition.
Turner, J., Wagner, T., & Langhals, B. (2022). Biomechanical and Psychological Predictors of Failure in the Air Force Physical Fitness Test. Sports, 10(4), 54. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports10040054