Physical Readiness - Then And Now

Physical Readiness - Then And Now
About the Author

Gina Harkins is MOAA's Senior Staff Writer. She can be reached at ginah@moaa.org. Follow her on Twitter at: @ginaaharkins.

Here's how the services' fitness requirements have changed over the years.

The Army is reviewing its fitness requirements as the service grapples with rising obesity rates in the ranks.

Seventeen percent of active-duty soldiers were classified as obese in 2015, according to service's 2016 “Health of the Force” report. Leaders rolled out a new holistic health and fitness program in 2017 to address the problem, which includes a possible new combat fitness test that could replace soldiers' existing test.

Marines completed their own review in 2016 that resulted in changes to their body composition and fitness standards. A year earlier, Coast Guard leaders looked at rolling out the first-ever service-wide fitness test. Coasties had been taking fitness test specific to their jobs, and the commandant ultimately decided to keep it that way.

This isn't the first time military leaders have worried about the possibility of troops' declining fitness. In 1960, the head of the physical education department at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., lamented the issue in a memo to the commandant of cadets, the school's highest-ranking officer.

“We find ourselves now in a rather serious predicament, one which is becoming more serious each year,” the memo states. “Incoming cadets possess less physical ability than they did 20 or 30 years ago. … At the same time, it is apparent that the officer of today and tomorrow will need more physical coordination, strength, and stamina than his predecessor.”

Here's a look at how DoD branches have adjusted their physical fitness requirements throughout the years.

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