15:50 GMT15 January 2021
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    The list of necessary physical fitness tests for members of the Air Force service includes waist measurement to measure body fat. The military has been critical of this method, as it doesn’t represent their actual physical condition.

    The Air Force will become the first military department to abolish the widely unpopular “tape test” from annual physical fitness examinations for pilots and Space Force members.

    “We trust that our Airmen understand the standard of good physical health practices and we are all finding innovative ways to stay fit,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown announced on Monday. “We also trust that leaders will take the appropriate steps to keep their Airmen safe while making every effort to provide fitness options during the pandemic.”

    According to Brown, the Air Force is also considering “alternative strength and cardio components” to accurately assess fitness.

    “We believe these potential test structure changes will impact Airmen in a positive way and help with a holistic approach to health and fitness standards,” he said.

    The Air Force has delayed its regular fitness tests four times. Examinations were cancelled until April due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier the service hoped to restart testing in January 2021, but the date was revised due to the alarming number of coronavirus cases in the US. The tests could be rescheduled yet again if local public health officials recommend further coronavirus-related restrictions.

    The waist tape measurement, alongside weight and height, is used to calculate body fat percentage, but some of the airmen complain that the method does not reflect the accurate muscle to fat ratio, as body types vary widely and that index can depend even on the time of the day. Meanwhile “unacceptable” results may harm pilots’ careers, due to the strict body standards required by the USAF. 

    Apart from tape measurement, fitness assessments include a 1.5-mile run, one minute of push-ups and one minute of sit-ups.

    US Military, US Armed Forces, fitness, US Air Force
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