Staying physically fit Airmen

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Dominick Martin
  • 54th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.
                                                    - Winston Churchill

Depending on your perspective, the one constant in our Air Force remains change.  This is especially true of our seemingly ever-evolving Air Force Fitness Assessment Program. Over the last 20 years, we've seen bike tests, mandatory PT during duty time, varying waist measurement standards, and formalized progressive discipline. While bike tests and the mandate for PT during duty hours are but fleeting memories, one thing hasn't changed. The one thing that endures through all the change is our nation's essential requirement for competent, healthy, and available Airmen--Airmen who maintain an active lifestyle. 

Our Air Force Fitness Program is about producing healthy citizens. Its stated goal is to "to motivate all members to participate in a year-round physical conditioning program that emphasizes total fitness, to include proper aerobic conditioning, muscular fitness training, and healthy eating." There's no debate:  active Airmen are healthier, have more energy, get sick less often, and are exponentially more productive than inactive Airmen. In the era of drawdowns and sequestration, many argue that our Air Force Fitness program is a cost savings measure and a force management tool.  It may indeed be just that.  But it's also an order--and a good one. It seeks to shape our existing force to meet a higher standard and to retain only those that fit this mold. 

Our Air Force Fitness Program is about readiness. Arguably, our Air Force's single biggest personnel challenge is Airmen-absenteeism due to on-going health concerns or more significantly, immediately following a PT failure. As a maintenance squadron commander, one of the most significant risks to our flying mission is non-availability of Airmen. If an Airman is at the HAWC or nutritionist, at mandatory PT, or standing in front of their commander's desk, then they aren't out there performing their primary duty, levying an additional load on an already stressed workforce. Our Fitness Program furthers the Air Force mission by producing the most capable, most productive, most ready Airmen possible.  It's an integral part of mission requirements.

As Airmen, we have a responsibility to our nation to be at our absolute best. We aren't a "chair force"; we are the most professional, most lethal Air Force the world has ever known. So hit the gym, ride a bike, play some racquetball, or just get out there and pound some pavement. Whatever you do, do something.  Our nation needs us, and it needs us now.