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Fit to fight vs. fit to test, which one are you?

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Julius Delos Reyes
  • 95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Meet "fit to test," fit to fight's evil twin.

"'Fit to test' is basically a mindset that a lot of military members have fallen into, whether directly or indirectly," said Pete Smith, Rosburg Fitness Center director. "Instead of making fitness a permanent lifestyle, they just need to know when they are testing, so three to four months out they bust their bodies to meet the Air Force standard. They are only preparing for the actual fitness test. They haven't really adopted the fitness lifestyle."

Therefore, instead of being fit to fight, Airmen who fall into this category are fit to test.

The physical fitness test is an indicator of being fit to fight, said Ken Ballard, Edwards AFB Health and Wellness Center fitness program manager and exercise physiologist.

"In general, one who does well in the test is in better shape to go to combat and will have less stress under certain circumstances," said Mr. Ballard.

However, what Airmen do in between fitness tests separates one who is "fit to fight" from one who is "fit to test." Airmen can maintain and improve their fitness level or just wait three to four months to work out and eat healthy before their fitness test date.

"There is a big difference between fit to fight and fit to test," said TJ Sharpley, HAWC health promotion manager here. "Anybody can get a passing score of 75. But even though they are doing just enough to pass, it doesn't help them. Though they are meeting the Air Force's standards, they are not doing themselves any favors."

The Air Force needs Airmen to be in good physical condition so they can perform and accomplish their mission, she said.

"As a military member, it is your duty to be fit to fight," Mr. Smith said. "You need to meet the Air Force standard. It is your job. If you look at the Air Force core values, one of which is 'Excellence in all we do,' you are supposed to be the best of the best at all times."

According to Mr. Ballard, having better and more efficient cardiovascular fitness helps a person cope with different environments, especially at deployed locations, which are usually harsh.

"Your circulatory system, in addition to carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells, is also one thing that helps regulate your body temperature," Mr. Ballard said.

Mrs. Sharpley said fitness also ties into various conditions. If one is fit, one is less likely to be predisposed to diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and other diseases.

Airmen who choose to prepare for the fitness test only when they know their test is coming up put unhealthy stress on their bodies. Going from doing minimal exercise to heavy exercise in an effort to prepare for the fitness test can often result in muscle sprain and injury.

After not regularly exercising before, individuals can overtax their knees and ankles by running without proper warm up or conditioning. In addition, they can also stress their backs and shoulders when doing pushups and sit-ups.

"Many fitness and sports injuries occur because an individual did not warm up, condition themselves properly, or tried to do too much after a period of not doing anything or doing very little," Mrs. Sharpley said.

So which one are you?

"Being fit to fight means that you are physically able to take care of yourself, your buddy or your comrade in any type of situation," Mrs. Sharpley said. "It is extremely important."