Physiological factors that influence soldier’s ability to sustain performance level in prolonged continuous work are such as A) initial physical level; B) ability to carry; and C) ability to sustain performance level over prolonged periods of time.
A) General fitness level is obviously crucial, such as strength and aerobic capacity, but so is also being completely healthy when the effort initiates. We have presented an immunological profile that might be useful to determine which soldiers that will underperform. Before a 6-day military training course expression of CD3 on CD8+ lymphocytes and percent CD8+CD3 lymphocytes was lower, whereas CD4/CD8 ratio was higher among soldiers who failed compared to those who completed the training (Ekblom et al. 2011).
B) It is well know that energy expenditure increases with increased carried weight, but at heavier loads (>30 kg) we found a disproportionate increase. Our hypothesis is that this is due to inaccurate technique, caused by insufficient strength relative to the carried weight, which may lead to unusual tiredness. In our preliminary results all soldiers had a point, carried weight, above which the work economy decreased. Therefore, it would be relevant to determine each soldier’s maximum optimal weight to carry.
C) Fatigue and performance in ultra-endurance exercise, such as military efforts, is determined by (in part) other factors compared to traditional endurance sports. One of the most important aspects is energy balance. The total energy expenditure for a 24-h Adventure Race can be as high as 18-20 000 kcal (Enqvist et al. 2010). One reason for fatigue is the substantial energy deficit. Partly because that the profile of amino acids in blood and muscle change (Borgenvik et al. 2012), muscle damage (Wichardt et al. 2011), hormonal changes (Berg et al 2008), and immunological responses (Wallberg et al. 2011, Marklund et al. 2013). This combined indicates that specific supplementations may be needed. We have recently examined the energy balance in military situations. Two situations were 100 h, 78 km by foot in summer alpine terrain (6200 kcal/24h), and 187 h of mixed military tasks (5600 kcal/24h). Even though the allotment of rations was sufficient to cover the energy expenditure the actual intake was substantially lower, energy deficit being approximately 50 % and 33 %, respectively. However, we see large individual differences. If possible, energy availability should be individualized so that heavier soldiers and those with heavier tasks have opportunities to get higher energy supply compared to soldiers with lighter tasks and lower weight.
3rd International Congress on Soldiers' Physical Performance (ICSPP), Boston, USA, 18-21 Aug, 2014