Only One Fitness Test for Sailors Next Year

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Officer Candidate School (OCS) class 16-21 students, at Officer Training Command Newport (OTCN), Rhode Island, perform a 1.5-mile run as part of a physical fitness assessment.
Officer Candidate School (OCS) class 16-21 students, at Officer Training Command Newport (OTCN), Rhode Island, perform a 1.5-mile run as part of a physical fitness assessment, Aug. 9, 2021. (Officer Candidate Clark Demaree/U.S. Navy photo)

The Navy has announced that it will conduct only one physical fitness test in 2023 instead of the more typical two, continuing a trend that is in its third year.

In an administrative message to the fleet released Nov. 4, the Navy said the fitness exams will be done "from 1 February to 30 November 2023" but did not offer an explanation for why it is sticking to only one exam.

Traditionally, the service has conducted two fitness exam cycles a year, but in March 2020, it halted the exams entirely over the COVID-19 pandemic. The tests resumed in July 2021 but with only one that year. The trend continued into 2022.

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The message also noted that the service will not grant exemptions to sailors who earned scores of "excellent" or better on the previous year's exam as they have done with cycles where there were two exams.

Additionally, the Navy will continue to give postpartum sailors 12 months after birth to recover while they are exempt from the exams. It expanded the exemption from nine months in 2021.

Next year will be the third that the plank exercise has served as a replacement for the curl up. The Navy made the change in 2021, but scores from that year did not count toward sailors' results.

In the years leading up to and through the pandemic, military data showed that the services struggled with service members being overweight to the point of being considered obese. Some reporting has suggested that the issue is tied to the operational pace of their commands and how much free time sailors have in their day to workout.

The Marines have tackled this problem by getting more scientific about how body fat is measured; they have announced they will move away from the traditional “tape test” method next year.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at konstantin.toropin@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.  

Related: Navy's First PT Test Since 2019 Has New Plank Guidance, More Recovery for Postpartum Sailors

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