Physical qualities improvement via sports to step up stress control under extreme conditions

Physical qualities improvement via sports to step up stress control under extreme conditions


Dr.Hab., Professor V.G. Shil'ko
E.S. Potovskaya
Dr.Med. T.A. Shil'ko
PhD, Associate Professor N.L. Guseva
National Research Tomsk State University, Tomsk

Keywords: mental fitness, stressors, special physical qualities.

Introduction. Job-specific stress results from the influence of extreme factors conditioned by the nature of work. It has a multidirectional (positive or negative) impact on work efficiency and professional longevity. Studying causes of stress and factors that contribute to minimization of the effects of stressors on health and working efficiency is the most important task of various fields of knowledge. One of research guidelines is to find effective means to enhance the body’s stress resistance under the extreme work conditions.  

Studies of the effect of stress on work performance showed that work efficiency largely depends on the work organization and the specialist's mental fitness level, which allow to reduce the effects of stressors on the physiological, psychological and behavioral levels.  

Along with professional training special physical training is becoming increasingly important in the preparation of specialists for work under extreme conditions, especially in the fields of activity that require utmost professional as well as mental and physical resources to fulfill the task under time pressure (rescue and firefighting units, Air Force and civil aviation pilots, cadets of higher military educational institutions, shift workers – oil industry workers, team and shooting sports athletes, fencers, etc). 

Objective of the study was to assess the benefits of the method of training special physical qualities based on the use of individualized sporting activities for preparation of specialists who work under conditions of lasting stressors.   

Methods and structure of the research. The content of the developed method and the structure of the research of stress resistance under extreme conditions are described by V.G. Shil’ko [6]. The research was conducted at the Department of Physical Culture of National Research Tomsk State University (NR TSU); the sample consisted of students of 21 NR TSU departments aged 17-19 (n=100 persons). The experiment lasted 4 months.     

Results and discussion. The students subject to the experiment were tested twice. The tests did not show any significant differences in the state of their physiological systems (anthropometric data, cardiovascular and respiratory indices, etc).

Analysis of the flexibility indices before and after the research revealed significant changes (p<0.05) in representatives of all the three sports. Nevertheless, the changes in the indices in the subjects engaged in karate were almost double (43.7%) of the values of swimmers (26.9%) and bodybuilders (25.9%).

In strength-building exercises, as expected, the highest indices in the control tests were those of bodybuilders and karatekas. Their strength endurance test results proved to be significant (p<0.005) after the experiment compared with the values at the beginning of the research. The highest growth rate during the experiment was demonstrated by the students engaged in bodybuilding (26.8% in push-ups and 30.7% in L-sit on parallel bars). The students practicing swimming and physical conditioning demonstrated opposite trends: positive in push-ups and negative in L-sit on parallel bars.   

Results of the experiment were surprising in the third strength endurance exercise (medicine balls juggling), since qualitative changes were observed only in the swimmers and subjects involved in physical conditioning practices. The students engaged in physical conditioning had the highest rates (growth rate - 15.2%). Result of the second test is surprising: after the experiment the indices of the students preferring martial arts in the third control exercise were 28.5%.   

A considerable decrease in the medicine balls juggling exercise after the end of the experiment in the subjects involved in karate can only be due to little attention paid to it during training; let us remark here that statistically significant qualitative changes were recorded in the group subjects in the first two strength exercises. 

Results of testing of coordination abilities turned out to be as expected. The best rates were observed in students practicing swimming (48.1%), the worst - in those involved in physical conditioning practices (–32.5 %).

Students from the swimming department were also the best in speed development, since they were the only testees who had this physical quality improved significantly upon completion of the experiment.

Although the respondents engaged in endurance sports (bodybuilding and karate) had a higher level of physical working capacity recorded (the Harvard step test index) than those engaged in swimming and physical conditioning practices, the repeated testing showed that this advantage was insignificant.

Conclusion. The study data confirmed the effectiveness of the method of training special physical qualities using particular sports. However, in the course of the study we were unable to determine the kind of sport that could be definitely recommended for inclusion in the program of physical fitness specialists involved in extreme activities.  


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The article presents results of a pilot study to assess the benefits of the authors’ innovation method to train special physical qualities by means of particular sports (including swimming, bodybuilding, karate and physical conditioning practices) and improve stress-resistance rates under extreme conditions.
Analysis of the available theoretical and practical literature on the subject and practical experience of special physical practices geared to improve the body stress-resistance rates gave the reasons to believe that the stress-resistance qualities are largely dependent on the overall/ static/ strength/ coordination endurance levels plus the general agility/ dexterity rates and other individual physical qualities. Efficiency of the proposed method was tested by the special physical fitness and functionality rating tests of the subject university students prior to and after the experimental study.
The study data give the grounds to recommend specific sports of the highest potential positive effect on the professionally valuable physical qualities to minimize effects of the job-specific stressors in extreme situations.