Physically Fit Are You? The Army Say’s Probably Not.

Posted by Beth Hartman

It’s been no surprise to most physicians, school physical education teachers, and now even the United States Army and other military branches that quite a few of those wishing to join, just are in too poor of shape, fitness-wise, to even make the cut.

According to some military publications, an average of 71% of those between the ages of 17 – 24 years old would not qualify because of reasons related to various health factors, physical appearance, educational background or as being physically fit enough to serve in the military.

That breaks down to about 7 out of 10 people within that age group would FAIL to qualify for military service, and that is after the military relaxed its guidelines for the amount of “Body Fat” a person could have in conjunction of the Iraq war.

The ineligible typically includes those who are obese, those who lack a high school diploma or a GED, convicted felons, those taking prescription drugs for ADHD, the Wall Street Journal reports, though some requirements can be waived.

Only 1% of young people are both “eligible and inclined to have a conversation with” the military about possible service, according to the Defense Department. This has been a growing concern for branches of the service like the Army. Who have stated that they are concerned that the American youth are just plain getting too far out of shape to serve and fight. For those who do make the cut, poor fitness can quickly lead to injuries during training. Each recruit lost to injury has been estimated to cost the Department of Defense approximately $31,000," says the study, published Jan. 10 by the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.

So, what would you need to be military service ready? Below are a few recommendations and suggestions to help you prepare your body for the demands a recruit would need in order to make the cut:

Keep in mind that getting in shape for the service is a process that takes time. You will need to start well before basic training. Depending on your current fitness level, it might take months or up to a year to get in shape for the service. Becoming physically fit for the military involves cardiovascular training, strength training and maintaining a healthy diet.

In order to track your training and to make sure you're getting the best out of your workouts, you should go that extra step and get yourself an activity tracker. Today there are a variety of trackers/monitors out there, but using one that has the convenience of being able to wear it right on your wrist and its being able to track your progress and send that data off to an area that can provide you with the details you need in order to see just where you are meeting your pre-set goals and where you need work is a great benefit to you and your ultimate goal of being in the best shape you can be prior to stepping off of that bus and arriving at the military training center.

The watch that fits this kind of bill, one that comes with a list of features that will monitor all of your training progress is the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Smart Activity Tracker  It can track any kind of workout you wish to tackle, and its also tracking your activity when your engaged in some recreational sports as well, from biking, swimming to paddle boarding to running a 10K race, the Vivoactive 3 can stand up to the punishment of any sport. That being the case, its made with industry-leading Gorilla glass, so you don’t have to treat it with kid gloves. Believe me, your “D.I.” won’t be treating you that way either.

Now that you have a way to track just how you're going to be expending your energy, let's get back to the basics on how you want to get yourself into shape now, instead of struggling with the other “Dough-Boys” recruits during basic training.
1st. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
To prepare yourself for exercise and basic training, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. A healthy diet can help fuel your body -- including plenty of protein and carbohydrates for energy. To keep your body fueled, eat five to six small meals per day. Meals should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products.
(We will do another post on just what and how much to eat to make this caloric intake work for you.)

Your starting this training with enough time to see you through to your departure date, so to train right you need to:
Build up your endurance. Cardiovascular exercise can help increase your endurance and stamina. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, five days per week, for weight maintenance. For weight loss, you should participate in 60 to 90 minutes of exercise most days of the week, although this varies from individual to individual. Cardiovascular exercise can include swimming, running, sprinting (especially when mixed with lower intensity intervals in the same workout), cycling, aerobics, and brisk walking. Remember, the military, loves to march, but they only march correctly once they have run you into the ground. Building up your stamina levels is the key to your handling your basic training and coming out of it with your head held high.

Strength train. Strength training can help tone your body and build muscles, thus preparing you for the physical demands of joining the military. Use weight machines and free weights to strengthen your upper and lower body. Perform bodyweight exercises -- exercises that use your own body weight to build strength -- including pushups, lunges, sit-ups, pull-ups/chin-ups, crunches, planks, reverse crunches and squats.

Participate in strength training two to three days per week on nonconsecutive days to ensure muscle recovery. Note: When you’re at this point, you should seek the advice of a gym instructor. After all, not too many people have a set of weights lying around the house. If you join a gym and speak with them about your goals they can assign a trainer who can help you achieve your goals of getting your body in the right shape so that your ready for the rigors of what those DI’s are going to put you through. And you never know, that gym may just offer you a discount for your joining up with the service. It never hurts to inquire to see what kind of benefits are available to you. Remember, your looking at serving your country and many businesses are looking to provide their services for the members of the armed services at a discounted cost. Take advantage of that.

So, the above are just a few stats and recommendations for anyone looking to join up with a branch of the military service and be able to handle the physical demands once you get there.

It’s still not going to be a piece of cake, no matter how hard you train in advance. Remember, it’s up to the Drill Sergeants to get the new recruits in the best possible shape they can, so they are ready to defend our country.

But by hitting the weights and bricks, (running), prior to your departure, you should be a lot better off than those who take this a little too lightly and find themselves groaning themselves to sleep at night.

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