U.S. Air Force scales back fitness testing, citing COVID-19 concerns

The U.S. Air Force announced a postponement of its fitness testing, until October 1, 2020, to reduce exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force

May 27 (UPI) — The U.S. Air Force announced a postponement of official physical fitness tests to Oct. 1 to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

A prior directive called for a resumption of the tests on June 1 after they were canceled in March. The test, officially the U.S. Air Force Basic Military Training Physical Fitness Test is a three-event physical performance test of endurance, used to measure physical strength, abilities, and cardio-respiratory fitness.

“When testing resumes, the Air Force will take a systematic approach to reintegrating official physical fitness assessments,” Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly said in a memo last week. “All policies and procedures should reinforce physical distancing, use of personal protective equipment, Airmen health and personal hygiene, and cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting work spaces and common areas.”

The U.S. Army said that it intends to go ahead with its new Army Combat Fitness Test, scheduled to be rolled out in June. The improved ACFT is better suited for physical distancing than the prior test, Sgt.Maj. Michael A. Grinston said last week.

“Do I think we’re confident when we start the ACFT that we can do it given the conditions of a COVID-19 environment? Absolutely,” Grinston said.

The Army test includes a 2-mile run, pushups and other demonstrations of fitness that can be performed individually and using social distancing protocols. The Navy Physical Readiness Test similarly consists of push-ups, curl-ups [sit-ups], and either running or swimming.

On Wednesday the Navy issued adjustments to its standard operational guidance in light of the pandemic, listing minimum actions for safe deployment. It includes at least 14 days of pre-deployment restriction of sequestered status, and adherence to preventative measures like hand washing and face coverings while underway. Screening will include a daily assessment of COVID-19 exposure history, a temperature check, a check for COVID-19 signs and symptoms, a review of any past COVID-19 testing, and a thorough evaluation of the member’s high risk factors.


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