Physical fitness is a staple in the Air Force. Units hold physical training sessions, the fitness centers offer free PT classes and Airmen receive a routine PT test.
The physical pillar of CAF has multi-faceted benefits.
According to a U.S. News article, running can reverse the detrimental effects of stress because it causes the brain to release chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine, which are calming to the body. The article also states that complex exercise sessions, such as a game of tennis or a dance class, increases connections between brain cells, boosting our learning capabilities.
“A more physically fit Airman will be better able to do their jobs,” said David Friederich, D-M Health and Wellness Center health and fitness specialist. “A healthy lifestyle gives you more energy to get more things done. Greater energy leads to a more fulfilling day to day life.”
Being physically fit is more than just exercise.
“I would say that being physically fit is 70 percent diet and 30 percent exercise,” Friederich said. “You can work out as hard as you want to, but if you don’t have a healthy diet you’re wasting your time.”
Air Combat Command defines the physical pillar as performing and excelling in physical activities that require aerobic fitness, endurance, strength, flexibility and body composition derived through exercise, nutrition and training.
“There is no one CAF pillar that is more important than the other, but I think that the fitness pillar has an impact on each one,” said Vincent Howard, 355th Fighter Wing Community Support Office coordinator. “If you didn’t get enough sleep, how social are you going to be? If you aren’t eating right your energy levels will be low, and that affects your concentration and focus. Staying fit to fight is adhering to a set of values established by the Air Force. If you can’t uphold those values, then you need to work on your spiritual pillar. It can affect them all because fitness is a total body effort. It’s not just about the gym. It’s a combination of exercise, nutrition and recuperation,” Howard said.