Who’s Ready for PT?

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Stephen J. Caruso
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

Fit to fight. It’s the standard we live by in the Air Force. But with on- and off-base gyms across the nation closed during the Coronavirus pandemic, it has been difficult for many reservists to keep up with their workout routines. And with remote work arrangements and social distancing in full effect, group physical training seems like a distant memory. 

For many of us, the “did you gain the COVID-19” memes may feel a bit too real. Looking ahead, many Airmen may be challenged with getting back in shape after being sedentary for so long. And while we have a temporary hiatus on PT testing, we all will test eventually. 

This “new normal” should start looking like the old normal before long, so it is important to keep in mind several key benefits we can expect by doubling down on our commitment to PT, as individuals and groups. 


This is fairly obvious, but exercise helps people become and remain healthy. One reason for this is that exercise helps the body combat infectious diseases, pathogens and inflammation. This is worth mentioning particularly in light of Coronavirus, as antioxidants produced during exercise may help protect against severe respiratory complications from COVID-19, according to University of Virginia research


The psychological benefits of exercise include increased energy, a sense of wellbeing, better sleep, lowered stress levels, sharper memory, more positive mood, stronger resilience, decreased anxiety and depression, and more moderated effects of trauma and conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.


Countless studies have shown the link between exercise and life expectancy, so exercise is arguably one of the most critical activities an Airman can prioritize in their day. In addition to longevity, it also leads to personal effectiveness. That is because people who prioritize exercise are also more likely to prioritize other key activities that contribute to success. It’s no secret that many top executives make time for daily exercise, despite often grueling schedules. 


The Air Force Physical Fitness Test doesn’t just test metabolic capacity, it tests mission readiness. True, many Air Force jobs are not as physically demanding as the infantry. But an Airman who can run a mile and a half immediately after doing back-to-back pushups and sit-ups unbroken for one minute demonstrates the resiliency needed to perform under stressful, time-critical conditions. 


Fitness standards are tangible measures of our commitment to the Air Force core values, namely excellence in all we do. Excellence implies that we are striving to perform at our best, whether in the office, on the PT pad. 


Group PT especially challenges units to work together toward a common goal within a short duration. Setting a time to meet, getting people to show up, getting organized, maintaining positive attitudes during activities - these all require leadership and teamwork. Group PT fosters healthy relationships and esprit de corps. It also promotes the culture of wellness by increasing commitment and creating conversations around fitness.


If exercise increases energy for individual Airmen, by extension it should also raise the energy level in their units. When an Airman shows up energetically in the morning having come from the gym or goes for a run on their lunch break, they can infuse their shop with an often much-needed boost. 

After a few months of virtual UTAs and more Netflix binges than most of us probably want to admit, these are powerful benefits indeed. So as Airmen return for upcoming drill weekends on base, let’s hope they remember their PT gear.