What Airmen need to know about the new fitness standards

  • Published
  • By Capt. Alysia Harvey
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
By now, all Airmen have probably heard about the new physical training standards and testing procedures, but based on some of the conversations I've overheard in the gym, there still seems to be some confusion about the subject.

So, here are the facts and what you need to know about how this affects you:

- Biannual physical fitness testing began Jan. 1 using current fitness standards, which means Airmen will test twice in 2010. During the Jan. 1 to June 30 testing phase, unit physical training leaders will provide two scores: one for the current system and one for the new standards so Airmen can gauge their performance.

- Starting July 1, Airmen will test under new requirements with new scoring.

- Under the new standards, the 1.5-mile run will count for 60 percent of the test, and body composition will count for 20 percent. Under the current standards, they count for 50 and 30 percent, respectively. The sit-ups and push-ups remain at 10 percent each. The new standards have different waist measurement values and 15 seconds, rather than 30, separating run scores. To view the new scoring chart, go to www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/affitnessprogram/index.asp.

- The new physical fitness test will place Airmen in one of five age groups: less than 30, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60-plus.

- Passing the test will require a composite score of 75 while also meeting a minimum level for each component. For example, a 30-year-old female Airman must execute a minimum of 14 push-ups and 29 sit-ups, complete the run in less than 16:57, and have an abdominal circumference of less than 35.5 inches.

- Results will fall into one of three categories: 90 and above, excellent; 75-89, satisfactory; and under 75, unsatisfactory.

- Scores will be used to document enlisted and officer performance reports as pass, fail or exempt.

Are you ready to meet the new standards? If not, all hope is not lost, thanks to the programs and advice offered by the Health and Wellness Center staff.

"The most efficient and best way to prepare for the new standards is to incorporate fitness and sound nutrition into your daily life," said Maj. Cathy Snowball, 48th Aerospace Medicine squadron and the 48th Medical Group's health promotion manager. "With testing occurring semi-annually members will need to live a fit lifestyle on a consistent basis."

She went on, citing an Air Force policy directive 40-1, to explain that the mission of the Health Promotions flight is to help people change their lifestyle to move toward a state of optimal health, which she defined as a balance of physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual health.

"We offer a multitude of classes that focus on each and every one of these areas which is essential to obtaining optimal health," she said. "Providing supportive environments has the greatest impact to produce lasting change."

Some of the classes offered at the HAWC include: back strengthening, post-natal exercise, pre-natal health, cholesterol reduction class, tobacco cessation, sensible weigh, and healthy cooking. The staff there also hosts commissary tours and running clinics. Additionally, Major Snowball said, Family Advocacy conducts a weekly stress and anger management class.

"The courses are free of charge," the major said, "but the Airman has to take the first step, calling us at 226-2710 and signing up."

Taking action sooner rather than later seems to be the key. As a physical training leader and someone who enjoys working out, I can tell that there are a variety of ways to get fit here at RAF Lakenheath.

While the base gym is the most obvious, there is also the track and running trail - after all, there's no better way to prepare for a running test than to run! And while you enjoy the brisk winter weather in England, there are also stations along the trail, where you can do sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, and several other exercises. If you would prefer to stay inside, RAF Milidenhall has an in-door running track, which is also approved for official PT tests.

The daily fitness classes at the gym are another great option. They are a very good way to build up some muscle, get your heart rate going, and work up a sweat for those who dislike cardio and weight machines - and for that added motivation you may need, there's music and others around who are working toward the similar goal.

If group exercise sessions are not your thing, and you would prefer more of an individualized program, you can hire a personal trainer. For more information on doing so, visit the information desk at the fitness center or call the staff there at 226-3607.

Do you prefer sports over the previously mentioned options? Consider getting involved with intramural sports, cycling, skating or roller-blading in the local area, swimming (there's an in-door pool in Mildenhall Village), or home work-out systems (my personal favorite is Wii Fit).

Bottom line here is this: fitness is important not only for your military career, but more importantly for your overall health, and there are lots of ways to get out and get active. I challenge you to find something that you enjoy and start your own fitness-for-life program today!