Stay physically fit, mission-ready year-round

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely
  • 50th Space Wing Public Affairs

Staying physically fit isn’t an option in the United States Armed Forces, which is why Airmen should take their fitness seriously.

Failing to comply with fitness standards set for military members can lead to deployment, permanent change of station and promotion denials. Additionally, failing can result in career altering actions for Airmen.

“Staying physically fit is part of our Air Force culture,” said Senior Master Sgt. Cory Shipp, 50th Force Support Squadron and Wing Staff Agencies superintendent. “If you look at what we’re called to do, the different missions we’re asking Airmen to do at a high level, maintaining a good level of physical fitness is required.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physically active people typically live longer and have lower risks for heart disease, strokes, Type 2 diabetes, depression and certain cancers.

“The days I get my morning workout in, I’m more prepared for the day,” Shipp said. “It can be a coping mechanism to deal with life stressors – it can be an outlet. That’s the time I use to reflect on what I need to do to align myself with the day.”

Airmen stationed at Schriever have various resources available to stay fit, such as the Health Promotion Office. The HP Office can provide meal plans, nutrition classes and BodPods, which measure body composition, to any member of Team Schriever for free. Additionally, the base fitness center is open 24 hours to those who obtain access. To obtain 24 hour access, go to the fitness center front desk and ask to register.

Daniel Webb, 50th FSS recreation assistant, said not staying physically fit can have long-term effects on the body. Every 10 years, inactive people lose 10% of their aerobic ability, which can never be restored.

“Airmen are subject to deployment year-round and you don’t always know when it’s going to happen,” Webb said. “To be able to do your job, you need to be fit year-round – not just when your [physical fitness exam] is coming up. I’ve had to deploy [in place of someone] because they couldn’t pass their test.”

The 50th Space Wing has not implemented the Air Force’s new program of “no-fail PT tests,” where Airmen can take a mock test and use their score to officially count, with no repercussions if they fail. However, the Wing plans to implement it once it becomes Air Force wide policy.

“The Air Force has built-in ‘gates’ so if you fail a test your career won’t end immediately,” Shipp said. “We aren’t a one mistake Air Force.”

Regardless, failing multiple tests can be career ending. According to Air Force Instruction 36-2905, “Unit commanders must make a discharge or retention recommendation to the separation authority (enlisted Airmen), show cause authority (officers), or appropriate discharge authority for AFR and ANG members once an Airman receives four unsatisfactory fitness assessment scores in a 24-month period.”

“If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail,” Shipp said. “Airmen need to stay ready year-round to fulfill the needs of the Air Force. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.”

The Air Force physical fitness evaluation consists of a waist measurement, push-ups, sit-ups and a 1.5 mile run. Failing to score at least a 75 is recorded as a failure.

“You need to run consistently, at minimum three times per week,” Webb said. “As far as form, that will come on its own with running. If you want to be good runner, you need to be strong. If you only run and don’t strength train, you won’t be [as good of a] runner as you would be if you strength trained.”

Webb recommended Airmen center their workouts on three specific exercises: squats, deadlifts and overhead lifts. Airmen should practice proper risk management and have a wingman to spot them. Airmen can learn more about the fitness center’s equipment and how to safely use it from the fitness center staff.

“Most people should have two strength days and three running days,” Webb said. “Your workout needs to be planned and targeted for a specific goal. If you become too good of a runner, you will become weak in the weight room. If you become too strong in the weight room, it can slow you down on the track. The fastest runner has to sacrifice their best times to become a better lifter and the best lifters have to sacrifice being the strongest guy in the weight room to be a faster runner.”

To prevent a failure, the fitness center offers a boot camp exercise. The exercise takes place every weekday, barring a base closure, from 6:30 – 7:30 a.m. The workout consists of high-intensity and high-speed strength training. Anyone with access to the installation can attend the workout for free.

To contact the fitness center, call 567-6628, and to contact the Health Promotion Office, call 567-4292.