Physical activity reduces the risk of conscripts interrupting their military service

According to a recent demographic study in Oulu, physical activity during leisure time before entering into the military increased conscripts’ likelihood of being classified into the military service class A. Lack of leisure time physical activity also contributed to the risk of conscripts interrupting their military service in such a way that the risk was higher among young men who reported they had been physically inactive before their call-ups. Conscripts with high body mass index were also at a higher risk of discontinuing their military service.

The study was conducted as part of the MOPO project of the University of Oulu and the Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine of the Oulu Deaconess Institute.

At the call-ups, the study participants completed an extensive health and lifestyle questionnaire and underwent a medical examination and fitness tests. All young men who participated in the compulsory call-ups for military service in the City of Oulu in 2012 and 2013 (n = 2547) and were assigned a fitness category at the call-ups were invited to participate in the study. Of these men, 1398 responded to a questionnaire section that surveyed their physical activity level during their leisure time.

Engaging in physical activity regularly before joining the military can promote conscripts’ fitness for service and reduce the risk of them interrupting their military service.

The association between high body mass index and interrupted military service further strengthens the previous perception of the negative effect that young men’s overweight and obesity has on their ability to complete their military service.

It would be important to identify obesity and low physical activity level in connection with the call-ups at the latest and to target interventions promoting physical activity to people at risk. More information is also needed on what would activate young men.

Details of the research publication: Niskanen M, Paananen V, Nurkkala M, Mäntysaari M, Korpelainen R & Pyky R. The association between physical activity and fitness for military service classification and the interruption of military service – a population-based MOPO study. Liikunta & Tiede 2021; 58 (5), 102–108.

Link to the publication:

Last updated: 3.1.2022