Introduction: In many occupations, standards for body height are used to evaluate job applicants and future employees . Especially in jobs where physical fitness is required, precise cut-off values are widely discussed. More than 50% of the countries of the European Union defined minimum height requirements for police officers, but none of the defined minimum sizes is supported by scientific research . Several studies examined the effects of body height on typical parameters of general fitness and health but without considering police specific work . Therefore, the objectives of the present studies were to analyze tall and short men and women on their physical fitness in police specific situations. For this purpose, the entire work was divided into four sub-studies, which included both laboratory tests and field tests.
Methods: Sixty one physical active (5.3±2.8 hrs/week) participants were divided into four groups. 16 short women (1.57±0.03 m, 55.7±4.5 kg, 25.4±4.7 yrs), 16 tall women (1.79±0.02 m, 72.2±7.8 kg, 24.5±5.5 yrs), nine short men (1.66±0.02 m, 64.1±3.7 kg, 26.8±3.8 yrs) and 20 tall men (1.91±0.05 m, 85.5±8.0 kg, 26.1±4.2 yrs). For analyzing police specific physical fitness, four substudies (Fig. 1) were obtained: 1.) Center of mass height (h) and max. mechanical power (Pmax) during vertical jumps with body armor (BA, m=21 kg); 2.) Resistance against impacts with BA; 3.) Pulling forces in different grip heights pertinent to overcoming disturbers; 4.) Performance while rescuing and recovering a person from a car. Statistics: Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, one-factor ANOVA with Bonferroni's post-hoc test (α = 5%), Friedman's non-parametric test (α = 5%), Wilcoxon test.
Results: The results of the studies (Tab. 1) showed that compared to tall men and women 1.) resistance to impacts was 45% and 39% lower (P<0.05) in short men and women; 2.) short men and women generated 31% to 42% less forces (P<0.01) in both grip heights; 3.) during rescuing and recovering a person from a car, short men and women needed 17% and 43% (P<0.05) more time.
Discussion: Considering the sample of this study, short men (<1.68 m) and women (<1.61 m) demonstrated less police specific physical fitness than tall men (>1.86 m) and women (>1.77 m). The results are contrary to the results of the study by Lagestad , who found that short police students performed similar or even better in classical fitness tests (e.g. bench press, standing long jump) than tall students. One should consider that these tests were mainly focused on moving own body weight rather than resisting external forces or moving external weights. Based on the results of our studies, a minimum height requirement should therefore be advocated as a prerequisite for the recruitment of applicants to the police service. However, it would be advisable to offer a fitness test with police specific tasks in the limits of the minimum heights.