Physical Fitness in Aviation

Abstract

Movement is one of the most essential aspects of human life which help in driving the economy of nations. Unfortunately, gaps in human performance usually lead to mistakes which mostly end up in accidents.

Research has shown that physical fitness of a person reduces chances of a person getting sick since it improves the immune system of the body. Regular exercises have been proofed to increase stamina and body strength thus enabling a person to work for long without getting tired. On the same point, a physically fit person is able to avoid abdominal and back pains associated with sitting for long.

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In conjunction with that, sharpness of the mind increases when one engages in physical exercises regularly thus enabling the person to deal with critical situations effectively besides enhances being alert incase of any emergency. It is depicted that, physical fitness of the entire plane crew highly affects their actions and performance because of the close relationship between physical fitness and human factors in aviation.

Since plane crew has little time to access exercise equipments, ways are suggested through which they can be creative and use what they can access in their places of destination to keep their bodies physically fit.

Background

Many plane accidents that occur today have been associated with the human mistake as opposed to mechanical failure of the craft. Pilots make mistakes of judgment either due to loss of concentration or lack of alertness which leads to the pilots being unable to respond quickly and efficiently when they are required to do so (Salas & Maurino 2010).

On top of that, the body functioning of a human being highly determines the degree of responsiveness that the same person will exhibit in any given situation, and this in the end, determines the results that should be expected. While human beings most of the time like to work very much, overworking the body can lead to fatal outcomes which would have been prevented if proper attention was given to the body.

Aviation is an aspect that highly depends on the judgment of the people on the crew and the pilot for any outcome therefore, necessitating the importance of one to be careful with the health state of their bodies (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia 2010). The human factors which seem minute to some extent are very vital when it comes to aviation because they influence the decision making process of people on whose care the aircraft is entrusted.

Besides, it has been noted that physical fitness has a far reaching impact on the human factors. If one does not have enough exercises for example, the probability of fatigue increases and this may hinder the degree of alertness of the person and this might be a cause of accidents (Rink, Hall & Williams 2010).

On top of that, it should be noted that the aviation crew does not engage in any active activity and they work for long hours in some cases making their bodies weak therefore their vulnerability to stress and tiredness increases.

The correlation between accidents and human factors is therefore very high and many of these accidents can be prevented if attention is paid to human factors. In conjunction with that, the relationship between human factors in aviation and physical fitness of the people involved is very direct and these calls for quick address to help in controlling accidents (Salvendy 2012).

Human Factors

Human factors are defined as the process of relationship between human beings and the machines with which they work on, the interpersonal relationship amongst people, the way people interact with the environment and how they carry out procedures of their duties. It should be noted that, human behavior is also included in the human factors since to some extent it affects the performance of a person (Hoeger W. & Hoeger S. 2011).

Despite people being very health and perfectly trained, there occurs mistakes that sometimes cause financial losses as well as deaths and these mistakes can be traced back to gaps in human performance caused by otherwise preventable human errors. Furthermore, extreme workload has been known to adversely affect performance, while low levels of workload also encourage laziness meaning that the right amount of workload is essential for maximum output.

The most important person in the airplane is the pilot and efforts have been made anciently to ensure that besides being very highly qualified, pilots receive regular training to ensure that they are at their best at all times.

But it should be noted that the airplane crew does not work each person in isolation rather they work as a group and therefore group performance also should be taken into consideration. This has generated interest in coming up with ways of incorporating the group relationships, teamwork and leadership as part of human factors during trainings to enhance cooperation and communication among crew members thus, enhancing efficiency and effectiveness (Salas & Maurino 2010).

In coherent with that, an effective human factors management should be incorporated in the company processes like training, vacations, quality management and various investigations. This will ensure that at least every member of the company will have a chance of undergoing a refreshing course regularly.

It is important to note that, human factors are influenced by several factors which range from the environment that one is operating in to the physical body state of the person involved. Noise, heat, extreme cold and sometimes vibration are some of the environmental factors that increase the chances of human errors if one is exposed to the same.

Unfortunately people have no power over some environmental factors because they are natural but their effects can be controlled by taking precautions in advance and training people on what steps to take incase they are faced with various environmental situations (Carayon 2011).

On the same note, it is known that the body works in a systematic way and it does so depending on some factors like the day and night, food times, and other social aspects. Disturbances of the daily body routine affect the biological functioning of a human being making the body ineffective to some extent and this leads to the problems of misjudgment or fatigue.

Physical fitness of a person is another determinant of how effective one can be and contributes largely to the human factors. A physically fit person is less likely to be stressed and thus, cause mistakes as compared to a person who does not engage in exercises.

Importance of Physical Fitness

A person who is physically fit is intellectually and physical ready to take up any task that is assigned to him and will have the energy to keep up with the requirements of the task at hand. On top of that, it has been noted that physical fitness does not only improve ones physical condition but also the mental and the health conditions. Actively involving one’s body in exercises improves the mind‘s ability to endure the daily stress that one goes through in the course of work.

Additionally, regular physical exercises decrease the chances of having heart attacks, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol (Salvendy 2012). This increases the chances of the crew flying the entire flight without falling sick and not jeopardizing the lives of all the people on board.

In conjunction with that, engaging in regular exercises has been proved to increase energy and strength making people more capable to carry out physical activities better. In this light, people involved in aviation should also exercise regularly to increase their energy and stamina therefore, allowing them to fly for long hours without feeling bored and fatigued.

Furthermore, trying to loose weight by just dieting, is straining the body because the body loses water and muscles in the process thus weakening the body. On the contrary, physically fit person is able to loose weight without loosing water and thus, remain strong while at the same time decrease the amount of fats in the body. It is therefore healthier to loose weight by exercising regularly instead of trying to diet.

On top of that, the plane crew most of the time is not involved in physically challenging activities and are therefore prone to gain weight and fats (Stolzer, Halford & Goglia 2010). If this is left unchecked it will lead to body weaknesses and some diseases that are associated with a lot of fats in the body thus, reducing the productivity of the crew besides reducing their readiness to taken on duties as and when they come especially emergencies.

On the same note, people flying planes are mostly seated and this in the long run will lead to straining of the abdominal and back muscles. Regular exercises that are meant to improve physical fitness also help in strengthening the abdominal and back muscles thus, making the seating more enjoyable making the crew able to remain active throughout the flight without feeling back pains.

Similarly, exercises have been known to improve the immune system of a person besides improving the brain functioning. Good immune system enable one to avoid diseases which otherwise would have reduced the effectiveness of the person (Carayon 2011).

On the same note, by increasing the brain functioning exercises help to improve mind sharpness thus, a person can be alert incase of any emergency thus being able to handle the situation effectively besides reducing chances of dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases. It is important to note here that, regular exercises help in improving the sleeping habits of a person because it helps in the relaxing the muscles.

People who engage regularly in exercises sleep continuously without waking up in the middle of the night which enables them to wake in the morning feeling fresh than those who do not exercise. This will work well for the plane crew who always are involved in long flights and therefore need a good rest whenever they have time to rest.

In addition to that, during exercises some chemicals are released in the brain which helps in reduction of depression feelings, anger, anxiety and stress. These feelings are known to make people to be antisocial and moody as well as hindering good cooperation and fluent communication within the company.

Therefore, for improved moods and interrelationships within the company, exercises play a great role and should be advocated for (Rink, Hall & Williams 2010). The plane crew need to work as a group since everybody has a role in ensuring a smooth and successful flight and if people start working as individuals the success of the flight might be hampered.

Moreover, happiness and output of a person increases when one is physically fit than when the body is unhealthy. This also improves the interactions of people with others in the work places and reduces the chances of people being angry because conflict resolutions become easy.

Additionally, flexibility of a person improves when one exercises regularly and this is important especially for pilots whose coordination is required to be efficient during flights since they have to operate many things (Salvendy 2012).

Pilot’s decisions during a flight depend on rational evaluation of the available alternatives and speed of acting giving safety maximum emphasis and it relies to a greater extent the ability of the pilot to take risks. On top of that, the attitude towards risk enables a pilot to assess risks that they may be facing as a flight and make decisions while they remain calm and collected. These characteristics are improved when one is involved regularly in exercises.

Maintaining Fitness

Before engaging in any activity, one has to determine the right amount of exercises that are healthy for the body. Crew members require a little bit engagement in exercises because they do not engage their bodies in active programs. Healthy management of the body is also very important for pilots who have long hours in job and only have minimal time off duty.

Taking a walk in a layover hotel or using the resource available there and take good use of the hotel environment is a good idea because sometimes the hotels might not have equipments for exercises (Salas & Maurino 2010). Although some hotels are situated in an environment that is not suitable for one to walk around, some may have stairways which can help in aerobics since one can take a walk on the stair cases.

As much as exercises are good for the physical fitness of the body, some situations do not allow for outdoor exercises and crew members should avoid taking the risks of going out. Winter is very cold and chances of accidents occurring are high and this can involve the crew members thus, they should avoid going out.

On top of that, it is advisable for the crew members who always get themselves in hotels that do not have training facilities to have their own training equipment so as to improve their chances of training. Unfortunately, when one carries around training equipment only light and portable equipment can help but when they are used properly they will along way to help.

However, due to inability to know whether training facilities are available at the layover hotel that one may book during their days off, creativity is important as it helps in coming up with ways of using the available facilities and resources to exercise (Carayon 2011).

Conclusion

Pilots and all crew members are involved in duties that require their body to be physically fit besides demanding that they be strong and remain active or else put all the people in the plane on risk of being involved in accidents.

It is therefore important that physical fitness be observed as these highly influences the human factors that have been broadly depicted as the highest cause of accidents. More importantly, aviation companies should find a way of incorporating physical exercises in their programs such that their members can have a chance of exercising as this improves output besides reducing chances of accidents.

References

Carayon, P. (2011). Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care and Patient Safety. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Hoeger, W. K., & Hoeger, S. A. (2011). Principles and Labs for Physical Fitness. Stanford: Cengage Learning.

Rink, J. E., Hall, T. J., & Williams, L. H. (2010). Schoolwide Physical Activity. Champaign: Human Kinetics.

Salas, E., & Maurino, D. E. (2010). Human Factors in Aviation. Waltham: Academic Press.

Salvendy, G. (2012). Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics. Hoboken: John Wiley & sons.

Stolzer, A. J., Halford, C. D., & Goglia, J. J. (2010). Safety Management Systems in Aviation. Farnham: Ashgate Publishers.

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