Physical Fitness Profiles in Young Finnish Men during the Years 1975-2004


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000232023.28984.78
APPLIED SCIENCES: Physical Fitness and Performance

Purpose: This population-based study describes fitness profiles in aerobic capacity (N = 387088) during the years 1975-2004, muscle performance (N = 280285) from 1982 to 2003, and body anthropometry (N = 324911) from 1993 to 2004 among the Finnish conscripts at the age of 20 yr.

Methods: Endurance performance was tested by the 12-min running test. Muscle fitness tests consisting of sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, a back-muscle test, and standing long jump were scored to muscle fitness index (MFI).

Results: The mean body mass of the conscripts increased from 70.8 to 75.2 kg (P < 0.01) during the years 1993-2004. The mean distance of the conscripts" 12-min running test increased first by 4% from 1975 to 1979, but after it that decreased by 12% (from 2760 m to 2434 m, P < 0.001) compared with the year 2004. MFI increased during the first decade of the follow-up, but thereafter, the number of conscripts who achieved excellent and good MFI decreased from 66.8 to 41.2% (P < 0.001) during the years 1992-2004. The physical ability of the conscripts to meet military service declined during the last 15 yr.

Conclusion: Both the increase in body mass and the decrease in physical fitness may lead to serious health problems in the future.

Author Information

1Training Division of the Defence Staff, Finnish Defense Forces, Helsinki, FINLAND; 2Department of Biology of Physical Activity, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, FINLAND; 3National Defense College, Helsinki, FINLAND; 4Department of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Sports Institute of Finland, Vierumäki, and Paavo Nurmi Center & Department of Physiology, University of Turku, Turku, FINLAND; and 5Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Jyväskylä Central Hospital, Jyväskylä, FINLAND

Address for correspondence: Heikki Kyröläinen, Ph.D., University of Jyväskylä, Rautpohjankatu 8, Jyväskylä, 40114 Finland; E-mail:

Submitted for publication March 2006.

Accepted for publication May 2006.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine