Time for a tweak: officials propose changes to Air Force's fitness program.
The new fitness program encourages all members of the Air Force team to make exercising and eating right a permanent part of their lives. The program's new fitness test, implemented in January 2004, measures aerobic fitness with a 1.5-mile run, body composition with waist size, and muscle fitness with push-ups and sit-ups.
The overall maximum score possible is 100 points, with 50 points possible for the run, 30 points for the abdominal measurement, and 10 points each for the sit-ups and push-ups.
Air Force health officials and experts from a number of outside agencies and universities have completed their first assessment of the new fitness program and decided to award full points on the body composition component of the test if the body mass index is within a healthy range--between 19 and 25. This change is being made to accommodate Airmen unable to obtain the minimum abdominal circumference but who are still at a normal weight for their height.
The Air Force originally disregarded height and weight as part of the body composition standard based on the belief that waist size is an indicator of health, regardless of how tall a person is. While Air Force officials still believe this to be true, they concede that people with a normal BMI are at a minimal risk for disease or cardiac incidents.
The BMI is calculated by taking a person's weight in kilograms and dividing it by that person's height in meters squared. There are several Web sites that will calculate BMI, including http://nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm.
Other major recommendations for improving the fitness program include:
* Lengthening run times for tests conducted at higher elevations. Time lengths will vary depending on altitude, but specific changes have not been determined.
* Retesting Airmen who are rated "marginal" at 90 days instead of 180 days. Air Force Reserve Command will continue to retest people who score in the marginal category, along with those who score in the poor category, at 180 days. The Reserve will include this provision in its supplement to Air Force Instruction 10-248--The Air Force Fitness Program.
* Promoting nutrition as an important aspect of education and intervention.
* Emphasizing regular physical training rather than test results.
* Reinforcing commanders' accountability.
* Moving the waist-circumference measurement to a controlled area for people rated poor or marginal and are being retested to reduce inconsistencies.
Air Force health officials are considering two smaller changes to the assessment criteria. Values for females age 50 to 54 were not consistent with all other age categories, so officials may adjust the criteria according to American College of Sports Medicine standards. Also, a category may be added for people older than 60.
The final part of the first annual fitness program assessment began in late April when commanders and senior enlisted leaders were randomly selected via e-mail to take a Web-based survey on the fitness program.
Health officials will take the results of the surveys and combine them with the results of the functional and external reviews and present their findings to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper for consideration. Any changes to the program are expected to be implemented in June with revision of AFI 10-248.
Col. William P. Thornton, Air Force Reserve Command's assistant director of health services, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., said that overall the new fitness program has been perceived positively by Reservists and that the proposed changes should help encourage all members of the Reserve team to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
"Our focus all along has not been on passing a fitness test once a year but on developing healthier exercise and eating habits that last a lifetime," he said. "It will take time to measure this through improved test scores, but we are hearing testimony from individuals that they are making a concerted effort to improve their fitness," he said.
As of May 10, this is how Reservists have scored on the fitness test:
* 8 percent excellent
* 41 percent good
* 4 percent marginal
* 7 percent poor
* 7 percent exempt (complete medical, deployed, pregnant, on temporary duty, nonparticipating, etc.)
* 14 percent overdue for a retest
* 19 percent not tested (includes some people in basic military training or technical school. The percentage who have not tested is higher among individual mobilization augmentees than unit Reservists)
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|Date:||Jun 1, 2005|
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