Does Smoking Impair the Response to a Physical Training Regime?

Research Paper Title

Smoking impairs the response to a physical training regime: a study of officer cadets.


One hundred and sixty five officer cadets completed a 6 month physical training programme; 47 (28%) were smokers and 118 (72%) were not.

Improvements in fitness were measured by the Army Personal Fitness Assessment (APFA) which scores for both strength and endurance.

Initially both groups had similar APFA scores [mean (SEM)]:

  • Smokers 114 (3.1);
  • Non-smokers 120 (2.3), difference not significant.

Six months later both groups had improved their scores:

  • Smokers 131 (2.7); and
  • Non-smokers 143 (2.3), but the smokers were now significantly less fit (p < 0.01).

The British Army needs a more effective anti smoking policy as 50% of young soldiers continue to smoke, and have an increased risk of premature ischaemic heart disease when compared with their civilian counterparts.

Physical fitness remains important in the Army and evidence such as this may help persuade soldiers to give up smoking before standard tests of cardiovascular or lung function show any abnormalities, with benefits for the future health of the Army.


Hoad, N.A. & Clay, D.N. (1992) Smoking Impairs the Response to a Physical Training Regime: A Study of Officer Cadets. Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps. 138(3), pp.115-117. DOI: 10.1136/jramc-138-03-02.


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