Is Today's U.S. Air Force Fit?
May 2, 2022
To ensure its service members have the requisite physical fitness to serve, the Department of the Air Force has established a variety of medical and physical standards. The authors analyze Tier 1 fitness assessment (FA) data to determine whether the FA components meet their intended purpose to minimize health risks and maximize readiness of airmen, and the authors also examine perceptions about fitness policies and the culture of fitness.
An Examination of Department of the Air Force Policies and Culture
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To ensure its service members have the requisite physical fitness to serve, the Department of the Air Force (DAF) has established a variety of medical and physical standards. The DAF also recognizes that building a more comprehensive understanding of how different factors influence exercise habits, test preparation, and the perceived importance of fitness is critical to promoting a ready and deployable force.
The authors evaluate Air Force (AF) data relevant to the Tier 1 fitness assessment (FA) from all AF-FAs completed by active duty officers and enlisted personnel from fiscal year (FY) 2005 to FY 2018 to examine the fitness of the AF's active component.
The Tier 1 FA consists of four components: a 1.5-mile run or 2.0-kilometer walk, designed to measure cardiorespiratory fitness; an abdominal circumference (AC) measurement for body composition; and push-ups and sit-ups, which assess muscular fitness. In this report, the authors explore the relationships between component fitness scores with career and health outcomes and examine airmen's perceptions of current fitness policies and the culture of fitness across the DAF. They conclude by recommending several strategies to improve the rationale for and the validity and acceptance of the AF-FA.
Examining the Relationship Between Airman Fitness and Career Outcomes and Deployment Readiness
Examining the Relationship Between Airman Fitness and Health Outcomes
Perceptions of the Air Force Fitness Assessment and Culture of Fitness
Discussion and Recommendations
Ancillary Analysis of Fitness Data
Additional Details on Health Data, Logistic Regression, and Survival Analysis Results
This research was commissioned by the Air Force's Force Management Policy Directorate (AF/A1P) and conducted within the Workforce, Development, and Health Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.
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