Air Force Stresses Physical Fitness - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

01/28/04

Air Force Stresses Physical Fitness

The Air Force wants its troops more physically fit. A new mandatory program requires all members of the Air Force to pass a fitness test.

The annual test includes push ups, sit ups and a one-point-five mile run.

"Go ahead extend your right leg forward. Left leg in. Keep that knee down," said team leader, Tony Donnell, as he led his troops through a morning PT workout.

Members of the 81st Security Squadron got up with the sun on this cold winter morning. Physical workouts will better prepare them for a new Air Force emphasis on fitness.

"I think it's a longtime coming. I think the Air Force needed to get more in line with the rest of our sister services and develop a mandatory program that actually got our troops up to speed where they need to be. Not here at home station, but also in our deployed locations," said Garon Shelton with the 81st Security Squadron.

Expanded missions overseas convinced the Air Force brass of the need for physically fit troops.

Dr. Stephanie Schaefer says the emphasis on getting in shape makes good sense.

"With deployments in locations like Iraq and Afghanistan where they have extreme weather conditions and sometimes extreme high altitude conditions to work in, we've realized there are many troops that have not maintained that level of fitness that was expected of them," she said.

"I personally have been deployed twice in the last year and a half. And the rigors of deployment, putting up tents and so forth, along with your present job, demand such," said Robert Parham, who will help implement the program through the base's health and wellness center.

"We're going to come on to the track, bank right and do our laps," shouted Donnell, as his troops prepared for a final run.

"One of the things I like about this program here is that it's now mandated. So, we do it at least three times a week and the Air Force makes sure it's a part of our life now. And they've given us time to do that," he said.

Military leaders are confident it's time well spent, to create a more physically fit Air Force.

The new physical fitness standards take age into account. For instance, a 20 year old must meet a more stringent requirement than someone who's 40 years old The testing standards also differ for men and women.

By Steve Phillips

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