DVIDS – News – Why Physical Fitness Matters – reviewing the history of Army Physical Fitness Testing

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — An important aspect of being a member of the United States military service is meeting the basic physical fitness standards established by Department of Defense instruction. The DOD requires each service to establish its own physical training program to measure physical fitness in the manner most relevant to that service.

The physical training programs required of military service members support well-established, evidence-based recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services for healthy adults to participate in 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, or alternatively 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity. Additionally, adults should aim for two or three strength training sessions each week.

Regular activity and exercise are recommended for adults to maintain healthy physical fitness, but are especially important for adults who have physical jobs. The types and amounts of physical training and exercise may depend on job duties.

Each military service routinely monitors baseline fitness levels using standardized testing protocols on a semi-annual or annual basis. Test results provide a basis for determining physical performance capabilities and potential weaknesses in medical preparation, such as risk of injury.

The use of fitness tests to monitor or determine health status and work capacity is common among military, police and firefighters, says Véronique Hauschild, lead author of a 2019 systematic review of studies on fitness tests used by national and international organizations.
Changes in operations, equipment and procedures, as well as science, have caused various changes in the fitness testing programs of many organizations over the years. This includes US military services.

Since 1980, the Army Physical Fitness Test, a three-test assessment including 2-minute push-ups, 2-minute sit-ups, and a 2-mile timed run, has been the official Army test. One of the benefits of the APFT is the ease with which the military could implement the test consistently for all soldiers.

Over time, concerns about the APFT and its standards, its relationship to routine military tasks, and its limited measurement of soldiers’ physical strength have been increasingly raised.

So, after more than 40 years of use, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command updated its Doctrine Field Manual (FM) 7-22, Holistic Health and Fitness to replace the APFT with the Doctrine Test. six-test army combat ability.

The ACFT includes the deadlift, standing power throw, hand push, sprint-drag-carry, leg hold, and 2-mile run. Other testing considerations include the option of holding the board instead of the leg tuck.

According to TRADOC, the ACFT is more in tune with combat activities and has received positive reviews from soldiers testing the new program.
TRADOC helps soldiers prepare for the test by providing ACFT updates as well as tips for training safely.

As previously stated by the APHC, the ACFT promotes the importance of a more balanced physical training program.

Along with the ACFT, the 2-mile timed run remains an important aspect of the Army Physical Fitness Test. Although race times are supposed to be slower than with the previous 3-test APFT, the race test is an excellent measure of cardiorespiratory endurance, also known as aerobic fitness, Hauschild says.

“Based on the 2019 systematic review, aerobic fitness was linked to performing more military tasks than any other aspect of physical fitness.” said Hauschild.

But as the study shows and as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point out, physical fitness is more than just aerobic capacity. Lower and upper body strength is an important physical condition for physically vigorous occupations such as the military.

While military fitness tests such as the ACFT provide a basis for monitoring soldiers’ fitness levels, the APHC has incorporated CDC activity guidelines into its Triad Soldier Athlete Target Goals of performance, as well as guidelines for proper nutrition and sleep habits.

Soldiers can use these goals as another tool to ensure an optimal and adequate physical activity program is factored into their schedules.

The Army Public Health Center enhances Army readiness by identifying and assessing current and emerging health threats, developing and communicating public health solutions, and ensuring quality and effectiveness of the Army Public Health Enterprise.

Date taken: 19.01.2022
Date posted: 19.01.2022 15:28
Story ID: 413101
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