by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Some say 85 percent of an exercise program is just getting into the car and getting to the gym.
“Exercise starts in the mind,” said Cindy White, chief of health promotion at the Health and Wellness Center. “I don’t care what you do or how hard you work, just show up.”
Once people are over the mental hurdle, they can start a meaningful exercise program that will lead to a healthy, fit lifestyle, she told a group of Airmen at the Dec. 10 “F2F: Be Ready” class at the HAWC.
Unit physical training leaders went to the class seeking details on how to make their unit physical training pack more of a punch. In November, the Air Force announced that new fitness standards will begin July 1, 2010. Originally set to launch in January, the added time gives Airmen the opportunity to excel, officials said.
In 2008, an Air Force Audit Agency report found the fitness program lacking in promoting a year-round culture of fitness. One key change to the PT program is a move from annual to biannual testing. From January to July, Airmen will test using the current PT test standards. Then, in July, Airmen will test using the new PT standards, which puts more emphasis on the aerobic portion.
Under the new standards, the aerobic run will count for 60 percent of the test. Body composition will count for 20 percent and the sit-up and pushup portion will count for 10 percent each. Passing the test requires a composite score of 75, while meeting the minimum level for each component.
In November, Peterson Airmen took practice PT tests under the new standards to see how they measure up. Of the 1,700 Airmen who tested, 73 percent passed with 30 percent scoring 90 and above for an excellent rating. The failure rate was 27 percent.
“I was pleased with the excellent rating,” said Capt. Jesse Johnson, 21st Force Support Squadron Sustainment Services Flight commander. “I didn’t expect it to be that high.”
A lot of people have the idea that if they need to run a mile and half for an annual physical fitness test, they go do it. That can lead to injuries and a poor test score, Ms. White said. The better way is to start slowly and build up intensity. Also important, she said, is setting goals. If an Airman runs a mile and a half in 15 minutes, but wants to increase that time to 12 minutes, she can help them plot out a 12-week plan.
Ms. White recommends starting with an aerobic base. Start by jogging for two minutes, walking for four minutes and repeating five times to add up to 30 minutes a day for one week. Over 10 weeks, gradually increase the run and decrease the walk until you are running a full 30 minutes. For optimal results, Airmen should add cross training – using an elliptical trainer or bicycle.
“You can train for the run with other exercises,” Ms. White said. “I don’t recommend high-impact all the time.”
Taking one step at a time is what Senior Master Sgt. Diane Henderson, Air Force Space Command inspector general’s office, said she will take back to her unit. Sergeant Henderson attended the HAWC’s “F2F: Be Ready” class.
“I’ve learned how to progress people through PT, especially with injuries and with our TDY schedule,” she said.
Airmen should start by finding out their current body mass index, Ms White said. They should also begin with knowing their anaerobic threshold. Fitness experts at the HAWC can help Airmen get those baseline numbers. An easy way to figure the threshold is to ride a bike and talk. Write down your heart rate when you are out of breath. That is your threshold.
“Studies show that you have to exercise above your anaerobic threshold,” Ms. White said.
Under Air Force Instruction 10-248, the goal of the fitness program is to motivate all members to participate in a year-round physical conditioning that emphasizes total fitness. That includes proper aerobic conditioning, strength and flexibility training and healthy eating.
The HAWC has a series of classes from nutrition to tours of the gym equipment to help Airmen meet that standard. Experts can also show Airmen how to ease into exercise if they are coming off an injury, or off the couch. Finally, they can show Airmen who already have a solid workout plan how to make improvements and set goals for better results.
The American College of Sports Medicine fitness guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise three to five days a week for overall health. In HAWC classes, Ms. White shows Airmen the proper way to exercise to avoid injury. There are exercises that will help Airmen struggling with the sit-up and pushup portions of the tests, which has been the biggest problem area for Peterson Airmen under age 30, she said. Ms. White even has tips on how to choose the proper athletic shoes.
The new Air Force PT guidelines are a good reason to kick-start a new physical fitness routine, Ms. White said. Get in the car, get to the gym and just do it, she said.
“I hope Airmen are thinking, ‘I do need to do this for the Air Force, but more importantly, I’ve got to do it for myself,’” Ms. White said.
The HAWC is inside the Peterson gym, Building 560, on the second floor. For schedules and appointments call 556-4292.
• Get your BMI measured from 8 to 10 a.m. every Wednesday; no appointment necessary
• “F2F: Be Ready,” 9 to 10 a.m. every Thursday in January
• “Ease into Exercise,” 1 to 3 p.m. every second Thursday
• Learn how to prepare healthy meals, 6:30 p.m. first Thursday of every month
Enroll in classes at https://halfway.peterson.af.mil/hawc//pha/cfupdate.cfm