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119 airmen failed the waist measurement test, and alternatives

Almost one year ago, the Air Force gave airmen a second chance to pass the waist measurement portion of the fitness test by having their body mass index or body fat measured. Since then, 119 total force airmen — including 41 active duty — took the alternative assessments, according to data provided by the Air Force Personnel Center. All 119 failed.

"We anticipated this would be the case," Dawn Rayner, deputy chief of the Fitness, Promotion and Evaluation Policy Branch, said in a Sept. 10 interview. "The feedback that we got was, 'Hey, I can pass all these other components of this test, it's just the abdominal circumference of this test, and it's just the way my body is built, and I'm really not that overfat.' Well we tested that, and we allowed that opportunity [but] every single occurrence ... they all failed."

Airmen who fail the tape test need at least a 75 out of 80 points on the remaining three components of the fitness test to qualify for the BMI or BFA test.

Rayner said the results are consistent with the science behind the testing. Neal Baumgartner, exercise physiology and fitness consultant to the Air Force and program director for fitness at Air Education and Training Command, told Air Force Times in June that excess fat in the abdominal region will increase overall BMI and pose other challenges in the other PT test components, especially the run.

The overall pass rate for the PT test for active-duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve is 85 percent for the 559,622 tests taken since October 2013. Here's a breakdown:

■ Pushups: 0.59 percent fail; 82.67 percent pass.

■ Situp: 2.74 percent fail; 81.06 percent pass.

■ Aerobic: 4.83 percent fail; 70.53 percent pass.

■ Abdominal circumference: 2.05 percent fail; 91.94 percent pass.

Six percent of airmen were exempt from all four components.

The highest fail rate is the aerobic component: the 1.5-mile run, or alternatively, the 2-kilometer walk.

Overall, the slim margin of failures proves the test is working, Rayner said, but airmen must continue to train as they're supposed to, "then they certainly wouldn't have any trouble passing that component."

Rayner said airmen struggling should consider the BE WELL, or the Balanced Eating, Work Out Effectively, Living Longer, program: the program targets nutritional and exercise behavior changes necessary to improve health and fitness utilizing five intervention options.

Airmen and their commanders can select an option appropriate to their fitness requirement — some of this includes access to online classes, health coaching through Military OneSource, in-person classes on weight management with a fitness component and instructor-led workshops on cardiovascular and strength training.

"The participation in the BE WELL program is mandatory for airmen with an unsatisfactory fitness assessment score," Rayner said. "If they failed the pushup component, for example, they're most likely enrolled in the strength intervention program in BE WELL." The course enrollment is in effect until they take their next PT test, usually 90 days following the failed PT test, she said.

In terms of changing the PT regulations in the near future, airmen shouldn't look for a new AFI anytime soon, Rayner said. "There's no set time, but we're always looking at it," she said.

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