The Air Force announced Monday it will allow walking and modified push ups in its revised fitness test, according to Task and Purpose.
The fitness test, which to this point featured a 1.5-mile run with sit-ups and push-ups, will now allow members to walk instead of run, and do raised-hand push-ups instead of traditional push-ups.
As for the core, service members have the option to do planks instead of traditional sit-ups.
Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, the branch’s deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services told Task and Purpose the Air Force will also set up a sprint-test alternative to walking and running.
“Say you’re not a long-distance runner but you wanted to run fast back and forth, we have a shuttle run back and forth about 25 meters apart,” Kelly said.
While the new standards make the Air Force appear to be relaxing standards at first glance, retired Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, who serves as the director for the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, said don’t be quick to judge. It’ll all come down to details.
“As best I know they haven’t released the scoring,” Spoehr told The Federalist, as members either pass or fail the test based on reps and time. “For me, that’s the key on this.”
“I think you can make an event like walking just as hard as running depending on how you score it,” Spoehr said. For example, he explained, a two-and-a-half mile walk in 13 minutes for a 17-year-old can be “really, really hard to make.”
The same goes for planks and modified push-ups, both of which have the potential to be more difficult than the traditional exercises.
“Are they relaxing it or is it just more choice?” Spoehr asked, emphasizing that until the Air Force releases more details, such conclusions should be avoided.
Spoehr didn’t entirely excuse the Air Force of complacency when it comes to Americans’ declining health under the weight of obesity. The retired lieutenant general complained the Air Force had stopped weighing service members last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and also stopped the “tape test” to determine members’ body fat percentage.
When the guidelines slip, Spoehr noted, so too do the health of servicemen and women who take note.
The nation’s worsening obesity epidemic has become a burden on its military readiness. Of the 7 in 10 Americans aged 17-24 already disqualified from military service, 31 percent are disqualified because of obesity, according to a 2018 report.
“Obesity has long threatened our nation’s health. As the epidemic grows, obesity is posing a threat to our nation’s security as well,” the study reads, titled, “Unhealthy and Unprepared.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates more than 42 of Americans qualified as “obese” in 2017-2018, a steep 31 percent spike from 1999-2000. More than 70 percent of adults 20 years old and older are overweight.
The problem has only continued to worsen, exacerbated by a viral pandemic which should have served as the nation’s reckoning on obesity but instead shut down gyms and kept people home to binge on carbs, sugar and Netflix. According to a survey from the American Psychological Association, more than 61 percent of Americans reported gaining undesired weight during the pandemic.
Even more problematic has been the proliferation of a culture demanding the latter’s acceptance even absent pandemic times in the name of feel-good activism.
Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death and raises individuals’ risk to complications from COVID-19.
— Tristan Justice (@JusticeTristan) January 4, 2021