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Aircrew Conditioning Programme Impact on +Gz Tolerance

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INTRODUCTION: Physical conditioning may improve aircrew performance during exposure to high +Gz acceleration, although few studies have directly assessed this. The present study investigated the effects of a 12-wk Aircrew Conditioning Programme (ACP) on markers of G tolerance. The ACP comprises aerobic and muscle strengthening exercise performed twice weekly and targets improved fitness and reduced injury risk.

METHODS: There were 36 UK Royal Air Force and Royal Navy aircrew who volunteered; 17 performed the ACP (Ex) and 19 acted as a control group (Con). Centrifuge testing was performed before and after the intervention. Relaxed G tolerance (RGT) and straining G tolerance (SGT), which had the addition of muscle tensing, were assessed. G endurance was also determined via repeated simulated air combat maneuvers (SACMs). During these centrifuge runs a number of physiological variables were recorded.

RESULTS: During the G profile to determine RGT, neither RGT, HR, nor blood pressure responses were affected by the ACP. During SGT profiles, a lower HR at a given +Gz (+5.5 Gz) level following the ACP was observed (Ex: pre 146.0 ± 4.4, post 136.9 ± 5.6 bpm; Con: pre 148.0 ± 3.2, post 153.1 ± 3.3 bpm). BP was maintained and there was a tendency toward an improved SGT. The ACP increased the proportion of individuals completing the number of SACM profiles, although no meaningful differences were found between groups in other variables.

CONCLUSION: Overall the ACP has no negative effect on RGT, reduced the physiological strain associated with a given level of +Gz (during SGT), and tended to improve the ability to tolerate repeated Gz exposure.

Slungaard E, Pollock RD, Stevenson AT, Green NDC, Newham DJ, Harridge SDR. Aircrew conditioning programme impact on +Gz tolerance. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2019; 90(9):764–773.
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Keywords: G tolerance; acceleration; aircrew; exercise

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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