Master self for physical fitness

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- It's been said one thing is a constant -- change.

We are seeing this more and more in the Air Force with programs such as force management, but change can be beneficial. This is especially true when it comes to mastering yourself for your physical fitness test.

The Air Force Chief of Staff emphasizes that the fitness program supports a year-round "culture of fitness," which we need to incorporate into our daily lives. From our first steps as airmen basics through the NCO and senior NCO tiers, we are expected to be at 100 percent and beyond for many types of jobs that require various levels of fitness. To help improve your fitness test score as you work to balance fitness with an often unpredictable work schedule, first focus on what areas you need the most improvement in.

The fitness test involves body composition, aerobic activity with the run test and muscular fitness with the sit-ups and push-ups. If one of these areas is a struggle for you, look into various ways of challenging yourself, since it is difficult to improve yourself if you allow your fitness level to plateau.

A bit of pain is all right during a workout, but you also need to be aware of your limits and take challenges one step at a time. If you struggle with push-ups, start practicing them at small increments, doing 10 first, then 20, escalating until you reach your test goal. It also helps to aim for a few push-ups past the goal in order to get an edge.

Some Airmen struggle with the run because they don't take the time to condition themselves. The most dedicated marathon runners have a plan in place to prepare for their event.

Another great asset to fitness improvement is finding a partner to work out with who challenges you. Whether it is a peer, family member or even one of the personal trainers available at the fitness center, the company and the chance to work with another to achieve fitness goals can be an improvement for both of you. It is also helpful to set a specific PT score goal as you prepare for the test, and then go beyond it.

The Phoenix area offers many opportunities to challenge you for the running tests, whether through climbing or hiking difficult terrain or even by participating in events such as the Tough Mudder or the Rugged Maniac race. All these events can help challenge your heart and muscles. They also provide a different and fun way to exercise, which could alleviate the boredom many people often have that causes their physical test training to fall short.

Fitness has benefits well beyond Air Force service, so do not take it lightly as our military undergoes changes. You can always change yourself for better or worse. Just remember that the final choice is yours. Let yourself be the Airman that did not stop running even when you fell behind, or took the time to knock out those last few sit-ups or push-ups to reach a goal. Your body and career will thank you.