Association of sickle cell trait and hemoglobin s percentage with physical fitness

Bryant J. Webber, Colby C. Uptegraft, Nathaniel S. Nye*, Francis G. O'Connor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose This study aimed to determine the association between sickle cell trait (SCT) as a binary variable and hemoglobin S percentage as a stratified categorical variable with aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Methods This retrospective cohort study included all recruits who entered US Air Force Basic Training between January 2009 and December 2014. Fitness parameters among recruits with and without SCT were compared using a standardized fitness assessment of a 1.5-mile timed run, 1 min of push-ups, and 1 min of sit-ups. Performance was further compared by stratifying those with SCT by their hemoglobin S percentage (20%-29.99%, 30%-39.99%, and ≥40%). Results Of all recruits (N = 210,461) who entered training during the surveillance period, 2161 (1.0%) had SCT. After adjusting for age, sex, race, body mass index, and ambient temperature while conducting the fitness assessment, recruits with SCT were slower on their initial run than their peers without SCT by a mean (standard error) of 9.4 s (2.6 s) (P < 0.001) and completed 0.5 (0.3) fewer push-ups (P < 0.05); sit-up completion was statistically equivalent between the two groups. When retested 6 wk later, recruits with SCT improved their run time by a margin of 4.3 s (2.1 s) over their counterparts without SCT (P < 0.05). Baseline physical fitness was largely consistent across strata of hemoglobin S percentages; increased percentages were modestly correlated with faster run times (R2 = 0.374) and fewer push-ups (R2 = 0.339). Conclusions As compared with their peers, recruits with SCT had slightly inferior aerobic fitness and similar anaerobic fitness at the outset of basic training, and gaps further narrowed over 6 wk of training. Stratifying recruits by their hemoglobin S percentage did not dramatically change the strength or direction of association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2488-2493
Number of pages6
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes




Dive into the research topics of 'Association of sickle cell trait and hemoglobin s percentage with physical fitness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this