Police officers need to be strong, flexible, and agile. Trainees applying to police academies usually need to pass a police fitness test to determine if they are ready for the physical demands of training, and before officers can enter a department, they also need to demonstrate their physical fitness. Police departments can also require periodic retesting to make sure all of their officers are in good physical condition. People preparing for careers in policing can embark on physical fitness programs to get ready for the police fitness test.
Some examples of tests a police department may ask recruits to pass include pull-ups, crunches, push-ups, and obstacle courses. Applicants may also need to run, drag dummies along a course, and take a sit and reach test. These tests assess stamina, strength, and flexibility, important traits for police officers. They can also help determine whether officers can maintain good posture, a critical concern for injury prevention, as police can acquire injuries by sitting poorly in squad cars and desk chairs.
Prospective police officers preparing for the police fitness test can use a variety of techniques. Jogging or running a few times a week will help recruits get ready for stamina tests, while performing crunches, sit-ups, and push-ups will develop strength. It is important to stretch before and after working out. For flexibility, activities like yoga can improve strength, control, and range of motion. There are also police fitness training programs available for getting ready to take fitness tests.
Working police officers who want to retain strength, speed, flexibility, and endurance can engage in regular physical activity alongside their job duties. Many police departments have gyms and fitness clubs where officers can get together to work out, spot each other on weights, and motivate each other to maintain fitness standards. The police department may also pay trainers to help officers develop a safe and effective exercise routine. Seeing a trainer can be especially useful for managing and preventing injuries.
Police fitness standards vary, depending on the police force. Officers can get information about the standards from a police recruiter or department representative. For applicants, this information can be useful for tailoring a fitness plan to get ready for the test, as it will provide the applicant with a set of goals to meet. The test is usually pass/fail, and exceeding the requirements does not carry any special advantages, beyond making it more likely that the recruit will be able to complete police academy training because she is more fit than other recruits.