WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2014 (NNS) – Navy Fitness recently conducted a 12-week study to evaluate the relative effectiveness of Navy Operational Fitness and Fueling Series (NOFFS) workouts and released the outcomes on Jan. 31.
The results revealed that NOFFS participants showed greater improvements in all areas than those participating in command fitness leader (CFL) led physical training (PT) sessions.
“The purpose of the study was pretty straight forward,” said Lisa Sexauer, Commander, Navy Installations Command’s Navy Fitness program manager. “We wanted to know if NOFFS was effective.”
Navy Fitness continues to expand NOFFS, which has been well received as a comprehensive program. However, no systematic evaluation had been conducted comparing NOFFS to conventional physical training.
“Now, more than ever, we must be selective about where we focus our energy and resources, and while we believed in the NOFFS methodology, we needed to know how it stacked up against conventional PT program,” said Sexauer. “In the end, we were pleasantly surprised in some of the findings.”
The objective of the study was to evaluate the relative effectiveness of NOFFS workouts, which were led by one of three individuals: a professional health fitness specialist (NOFFS-HFS), a NOFFS-trained CFL (NOFFS-CFL) or self-directed (NOFFS-SD). The results were compared to conventional physical training as delivered by a CFL over a period of 12 weeks based on the following evaluation and measurement tools.
* Functional Movement Screen (FMS). A series of seven movements that challenge muscular strength, muscular balance, core strength, flexibility and coordination (proprioception). Each movement was graded by a certified tester, resulting in an overall score.
* Functional Test. A job task simulation that involved a 300-yard shuttle run carrying a 50-pound sandbag, dropping the sandbag every 25 yards and picking it back up to continue. Total time to complete the 300 yards was measured in seconds.
* Physical readiness. An evaluation based on the conventional Navy Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA).
* Work and Health Status. Factors such as anxiety, depression, quality of life and sleep quality were evaluated.
* Healthy Behaviors. Exercise compliance, physical activity reported and dietary intake were taken into consideration.
Once the baseline data was collected, all participants in NOFFS intervention groups received the eight-hour NOFFS introduction course delivered by MWR health fitness specialists. The course introduced participants to the NOFFS methodology, NOFFS exercises and the nutrition education program components, including meal builders.
Exercise sessions were conducted three days per week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) in each group. Non-compliant individuals were removed from the final analysis.
All groups improved in FMS scores, PFA components and Functional Test times; however, all NOFFS groups showed greater improvement than the conventional CFL-led PT group in each category. Also, waist circumference measurements decreased for all NOFFS groups, while the CFL-led PT group demonstrated a slight increase in waist circumference.
This is significant to note because waist circumference is a leading health indicator for a multitude of preventable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
No groups demonstrated significant improvements in health behavior categories, such as sitting time and dietary intake, showing that the one variable for the study was the difference in choice of exercise.
It should be noted that following the eight-hour NOFFS course, no other reinforcing intervention was offered to aid individuals in the pursuit of those health behaviors evaluated, such as sleep or quality of life. Further, NOFFS and conventional PT were not specifically designed to directly impact these areas and the study was limited by the designed 12-week duration.
It was determined that for all study participants, 17 percent were considered abnormal or borderline abnormal for anxiety. Given the small number of individuals identified at baseline in these two categories (further defined as “at risk”), all groups were combined for data analysis. It was concluded that those “at risk” saw a decrease in anxiety following the 12-week exercise intervention. Therefore, one can reasonably conclude that PT three times per week was effective for reducing anxiety during this study.
“NOFFS methodology, developed by Athletes’ Performance Institute (API), provides a very strong foundation for all human movement,” said Sexauer. “Therefore, the focus on building the core (pillar) without specifically training for some of the components of the physical readiness test (PRT), such as sit ups and pushups, yielded better results in those areas than conventional PT.”
Conventional PT typically incorporates sit ups and pushups in a volume that simulates the PRT testing protocol. While NOFFS does incorporate some sit ups and pushups, the total volume is minimal.
“It is a testament to the fact that performing the same movements over and over again does not yield better results,” said Sexauer.
NOFFS includes a number of complementary and “protective” exercises that build a strong core while restoring strength balance to the entire body. This balance yields better results without focusing on the same repetitive movements, which can lead to overuse injuries.
“I have often been asked that if Sailors have to perform the PRT twice a year, why is it necessary to do anything other than the PRT exercises?” said Sexauer. “This approach simply leads to overuse injuries, plateaus and eventual performance regression. Striking the right balance is essential to a fit and ready fighting force. We believe NOFFS does just that.”
For more information on Navy Fitness and NOFFS, please visit www.navyfitness.org.