Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

As Fitness Tests Resume, Troops Seek Post-COVID Exercise Routines

Military personnel physically training Soldiers assigned to the 1-125 Field Artillery perform the maximum deadlift event during their Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) diagnostic on Aug. 20, 2021, at Camp Ripley, Minnesota. Designed with the latest exercise science and physical training insights, the ACFT empowers soldiers to complete a variety of combat tasks and will go into effect in the spring of 2022 (Photo by: National Guard Sgt. Mahsima Alkamooneh).

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Coronavirus

Last year, as the global pandemic forced abrupt lifestyle changes across the country, many service members saw their exercise routines disrupted and their everyday physical activities reduced.

That's when Army Col. Patrick Donahue decided to find new ways to stay in shape.

"I was concerned about losing my physical fitness," Donahue, the brigade commander at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, recalled in a recent interview.

"I enjoy my food and drink, and in order to maintain my physical fitness levels and caloric intake, I had to add a [stationary bike] and yoga to my regimen."

Donahue is among many service members who've reassessed their physical fitness needs in light of shifting lifestyles and COVID-era restrictions.

Making weight and passing semi-annual fitness tests have always been a challenge for some service members. It can prompt them to do a lot of unusual things: Think Saran Wrap and saunas (to sweat off a few pounds), or hemorrhoid cream (to shrink waistlines temporarily).

Passing the physical fitness exam - which includes meeting weight and body fat composition standards - can have a major impact on promotions and career advancements. It can even result in the premature end to a military career.

After the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, all military branches suspended their physical fitness testing requirements.

The services have all resumed those tests this year - and for some service members, getting back into shape was not easy.

COVID's Impact on Total Force Fitness

What impact did COVID-19 have on physical fitness and Total Force Fitness?

The answer is not simple.

Some people used the time to redouble their fitness efforts as a way to cope with stress, said Army Col. (Dr.) Catherine Kimball-Eayrs, the commandant of the USUHS F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine.

Military personnel doing a leg tuck
Spc. Johnson Ongenyo, a motor transport operator assigned to 1-125 Field Artillery, conducts a leg tuck on Aug. 20, 2021, at Camp Ripley, Minnesota (Photo by: National Guard Sgt. Mahsima Alkamooneh). section

Others, however, could not focus on their physical fitness for a variety of reasons, and some just had a hard time of it, she said. For example, some service members were suddenly working from home where they sought out comfort food, or just lost the routine activity that they would normally do during a commute.

"A lack of everyday activity negatively affected people," she said.

Some of that has changed in the last six months, Donahue suggested, with gyms, yoga studios and other fitness centers reopening as people use masks and get the COVID-19 vaccines.

"This is a good thing, especially for the younger generation, such as USU students, because their spiritual, psychological and social wellness was negatively affected by the COVID social distancing requirements and the necessity for online learning," he said.

"They felt like their world was collapsing."

Getting Back in Shape

To get back in the game, Kimball-Eayrs suggested first having a discussion with a primary care provider. "Start a discussion first before you make any changes," she said.

"This is a marathon. You can't fix it overnight. You need to have patience; you need to take the long view about ramping up to full physical fitness," she said.

A great source for fitness information is USU's Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) Human Performance Resources program, Kimball-Eayrs said.

She pointed to the CHAMP Rehab, Refit, Return to Duty RX3 website and to the Go for Green nutrition website as good places to start for those who feel their physical and nutritional fitness have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Or go to the outpatient nutrition clinic at your military medical treatment facility or wellness center on post, she suggested.

She speaks from experience. As she has aged into her military career and after three pregnancies, she said passing the fitness test has become tougher.

"I had to make changes to stay fit for the exam," Kimball-Eayrs said. "I had to get a feel for adjusting my activity or adjusting my calories." For example, she now does planks rather than knee tucks as part of her physical fitness program.

"Physical fitness is more than your body mass index, PT run time, or how many push-ups you can do," Total Force Fitness materials state. "To optimize your physical fitness you need strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance all working together."

You also may be interested in...

Tips for How to ‘Train Right’ and Avoid Injuries During Sports and PT

Article
10/13/2021
Military personnel in physical threapy

Physical training, recreational activities, and sports are key to service members’ health but musculoskeletal injuries due to sudden incidents and repeated stress or overuse are the biggest health problem in the U.S. military.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Injury Prevention

Fort Knox dietician reveals personal staples for healthy family meals, picky eaters

Article Around MHS
10/8/2021
Vegetables displayed at a grocery store.

Making sure everyone in the family is eating healthy can sometimes be overwhelming and oftentimes, families aren’t sure where to start.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

USECAF receives insight into COVID19 vaccinations at Reserve wing

Article Around MHS
10/8/2021
Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visits with 433rd Airlift Wing members at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 2, 2021.

Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visited the 433rd Airlift Wing here to meet with Reserve Citizen Airmen leaders on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Oct. 2, 2021.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus

Mask Mouth Does Not Exist, Dentists Say

Article
10/6/2021
A bunch of children wearing face masks walk on a city street.

Mask mouth doesn’t exist, Internet chatter to the contrary, dentists say.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

Compassionate Caring with COVID Vax Commitment

Article Around MHS
10/6/2021
A  female doctor poses for a photo.

When pregnant patients have an appointment with Lt. Cmdr. Megan Northup at Naval Hospital Bremerton, they get more than a qualified and caring OB/GYN physician.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Momentum builds as Army implements Holistic Health and Fitness

Article Around MHS
10/5/2021
Soldiers prepare to exercise.

The Army’s implementation of Holistic Health and Fitness, or H2F, has made significant progress over the past year as the Army’s primary investment in Soldier readiness and lethality.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness

Health Promotion duo optimizes health on Incirlik Air Base

Article Around MHS
9/30/2021
Air Force Capt. Sydney Sloan, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion element chief (right), and Air Force Senior Airman Gloriann Manapsal, 39th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion technician (left), promote making healthy choices at the Sultan’s Inn Dining Facility on Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

The 39th Operation Medical Readiness Squadron health promotion team provides and integrates evidence-based programs to optimize the health and readiness, even during these unprecedented times.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Booster Shots are Now Available – What You Need to Know

Article
9/30/2021
Containers of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Each vial contains six doses for vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.

Booster shots are now recommended for millions of people – but many others will have to wait for additional approvals.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Finding time for fitness during the work week just got easier

Article Around MHS
9/29/2021
A person works out the gym.

The new Army Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program now encourages employees to focus on fitness while at work.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Total Force Fitness

Regular physical activity is important for health and performance

Article Around MHS
9/29/2021
A Coast Guardsman works out at Coast Guard Air Station Savannah.

Those who get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week have a much lower risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease—the top killers of Americans every year.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness

Myths & facts about the vax - debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths

Article
9/29/2021
Myths and facts about the vax

The COVID-19 vaccine has been mandated across the Department of Defense and despite its demonstrated effectiveness and safety, a host of myths have left some Airmen and Guardians hesitant to receive it. While social media posts and some news outlets may make it harder to keep up with what is fact or fiction, the science is clear … approved COVID-19 vaccines work.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Retired colonel leads Fort Irwin COVID response mission

Article Around MHS
9/28/2021
Army Col. Richard Hopkins, the COVID-19 response coordinator with Weed Army Community Hospital, collects paperwork from a Soldier who received the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination event.

Retired Army Col. Richard Hopkins volunteered under the Army’s COVID-19 Retiree Recall Program to return to service as the COVID-19 response coordinator for Weed Army Community Hospital and Fort Irwin, California.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

What is a "healthy" weight-loss eating plan, anyway?

Article Around MHS
9/28/2021
A female soldier poses with an apple in her hand.

Weight loss sounds simple: take less “energy in” (fuel from food and drinks, measured in calories) and use more “energy out” (calories burned through daily physical activity and exercise).

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness

ARNORTH military support to FEMA begins in Tennessee, continues in five states

Article Around MHS
9/24/2021
Prepared COVID-19 vaccine shots wait to be administered to an Airman. Members of the 134th Air Refueling Wing were eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccines during Unit Training Assembly here May 2nd, 2021.

At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, approximately 20 military medical personnel deployed to Tennessee to support civilian healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients in local hospitals.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DODEA Schools Keeps On With In-Person Classes, and Fall Sports, Too

Article
9/23/2021
Kids playing football

DODEA schools are striving to continue in-person learning in the 2021-22 school year.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 43

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.