Cover: Behavioral Fitness and Resilience

Behavioral Fitness and Resilience

A Review of Relevant Constructs, Measures, and Links to Well-Being

Published Dec 5, 2014

by Sean Robson, Nicholas Salcedo


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Research Questions

  1. What are the most important constructs for behavioral fitness in the scientific literature?
  2. Is there any evidence to suggest that interventions to promote behavioral fitness may be beneficial?
  3. What specific resources can promote behavioral fitness and resilience?

This report is one of a series designed to support Air Force leaders in promoting resilience among its Airmen, civilian employees, and Air Force family members. It examines the relationship between behavioral fitness and resilience, using key constructs found in the scientific literature that relate to sleep, alcohol use, and tobacco use. Supporting or increasing the levels of the key measures of behavioral fitness identified in this report may facilitate resilience and can protect Airmen, civilian employees, and Air Force families from the negative effects of conduct, routines, and habits that are detrimental to fitness. The report also reviews behavioral fitness construct measures and resilience outcomes as well as interventions designed to promote behavioral fitness.

Key Findings

Behavioral fitness is a key factor that can affect an individual's resilience and readiness to perform military duties

  • Being behaviorally unfit may prevent an individual from adequately coping with the stress of military duty.
  • Sleep is critical to physical and psychological functioning, and excessive sleep loss can contribute to chronic health conditions, poor mental health, and reduced adaptability to stress.
  • Alcohol and drug use disorder can negatively affect behavioral fitness.
  • Smoking is associated with the onset of a number of chronic health conditions and can also increase stress and the risk of mood and panic disorders.


  • Interventions to promote health behavior should target high-risk individuals.
  • Attempts to change health-related behavior should individually tailor messages and also use multimodal means of delivery.
  • The Air Force should explore opportunities to promote resources that increase behavioral fitness and resilience.
  • Behavioral fitness should be monitored using valid and reliable measures.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was conducted within the Manpower, Personnel, and Training Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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