The U.S. Navy is entering a year-long transition period as it changes the rules it uses to assess the fitness and health of its sailors. The new model will focus on year-round fitness and helping sailors who struggle to stay healthy. It will also be less punitive than the current model, with a greater focus on helping sailors who gain weight.
The new rules largely revolve around the body composition assessment (BCA) portion of the physical fitness assessment. The BCA looked at the body fat levels of sailors and, under the current system, failing the BCA counts as failing the fitness assessment overall. This is problematic since three failures in four years results in being discharged.
Limits on weight and body-mass index will take age group into account. The current model only has two values per gender: a limit for those over 40, and a limit for those under 40. The new model will assess limits based on more narrow age groups for a better representation.
The new BCA will be a three-step process. First, sailors have their height and weight measured and compared to the allowable limit. If this portion is failed, an abdominal measurement is taken—a circumference of 39 inches or under for males, or 35.5 inches or under for females results in a pass. If this part is failed, the third step is a full body fat percentage check. It is only by failing this portion that the overall physical fitness assessment will be flunked.
Regardless of pass or fail on the third step, sailors will be enrolled in a fitness enhancement program to offer guidance and tools on diet and exercise. The new standards are expected to help both sailors struggling to stay fit and those who have no trouble with running, sit-ups, or other physical tasks yet still fail height-and-weight requirements.
The new plan will also offer incentives for top scorers. Those who perform exceptionally well on the assessments will be given a badge for their fitness suits. Three outstanding scores in a row will bestow a yet-undetermined uniform award, likely a ribbon or medal.
Source for Today’s Article:
Faram, M. et al., “New Body Fat Rules, Big Changes to Navy BCA,” Navy Times web site, August 3, 2015; http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/careers/navy/2015/07/30/new-fitness-standards-easier-girth-focus-health/30849729/.