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

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

Image of 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 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...

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:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DHA’s Mobile Apps Can Help You with Overall Wellness

Article
9/30/2021
A smartphone user using the DHA's Air Force MissionFit app

Healthcare and wellness apps developed by the DHA are proliferating.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Total Force 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:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | 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

Understanding Non-Suicidal Self-Injury, Support for Military Children

Article
9/21/2021
Non-suicidal self-injury by adolescents vary based on studies — from 1 in 6 to as high as 1 in 4 — rates have increased over the past 20 years. Given this prevalence and the associated health risks, it’s crucial for anyone treating adolescents to be aware of NSSI.

Non-suicidal self-injury by adolescents vary based on studies — from 1 in 6 to as high as 1 in 4 — rates have increased over the past 20 years.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Conditions and Treatments

The COVID-19 Pandemic: How Health Care Workers are Coping

Article
9/13/2021
a nurse helping a COVID-19 patient

For health care providers, experiencing the pandemic inside a hospital has brought

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Podcasts

Increased COVID Restrictions on the Pentagon Reservation

Article
9/8/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and positive test cases in the National Capital Region, the Pentagon Reservation will move to Health Protection Condition Bravo Plus (Bravo+)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

Digital health innovation emerges during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
8/31/2021
The Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic. (Graphic courtesy of DHA Connected Health)

The DHA's Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise, and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Health Care Technology | Coronavirus

How Good Diet and Exercise Prevent Injury and Disease

Article
8/30/2021
Photo of group doing pushups.

A proper diet and exercise regimen can ward off disease and aid in maintaining your health.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Injury Prevention | Nutritional Fitness

Secretary of Defense Mandates COVID-19 Vaccinations for Service Members

Article
8/26/2021
An Army medic administers the COVID-19 vaccine to another soldier.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III yesterday issued a memorandum directing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for service members.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DOD Intends to Mandate Pfizer Vaccine, Pentagon Official Says

Article
8/25/2021
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby holds a press briefing, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Kirby said the health of DOD's military and civilian employees, families and communities is a top priority.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

MHS and MOS Town Hall To Your Health: Dental Health

Article
8/24/2021
MHS and Military OneSource Townhall graphic

MHS and Military OneSource presents a discussion about Dental Health.

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health - Dental, Medical & Mental | Total Force Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | TRICARE Dental Care

Maintaining Mission Readiness During a Pandemic

Article
8/24/2021
Gen. Place presents at HIMSS in Las Vegas.

DHA Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place discussed the national security implications of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus | Health Readiness Support

Reform, COVID-19 Have Been Catalysts for Change in Military Medicine

Article
8/16/2021
Dr. Terry Adirim speaking to an audience at a conference

Healthcare is about taking care of people, so no amount of change or innovation is ever sufficient if modernization does not lead to helping patients, says acting ASDHA at HIMSS21 in Las Vegas.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Military Health System Transformation

Don't Hesitate: Vaccinate Today for School

Article
8/13/2021
A boy gets the COVID-19 vaccine

Back to School Means Vaccine Time

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Vaccine Recommendations | Children's Health | Immunizations | About TRICARE
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 61 - 75 Page 5 of 21
Refine your search
Last Updated: November 17, 2021

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.