• Navy Revamps Physical Fitness Assessments, Increases Body Fat Limits

    The new body fat and fitness rules proposed in May by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus are set to be officially announced on Monday.

    In May, Mabus stated the need to integrate more women into the service at a speech in Annapolis, Md., and gave a commitment to opening all operational billets to women as well as increasing body fat limits. (RELATED: Navy Secretary Wants More Women In The Service, Proposes To Increase Body Fat Limits)

    Part of the current Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) used in screening recruits includes a body composition component. With standards in this area lowered, more recruits will pass through to the exercise portion, as current rules exclude those who fail body composition from moving on further in the assessment, Stars and Stripes reports.

    Starting in the fall, failing body standards just means sailors will have to take nutritional counseling and join the Fitness Enhancement Program, rather than dropping out of the PFA entirely. In January, changes to allowable body fat percentages will come into effect. Men from 22 to 29 will be allowed up to 23 percent of body fat, an increase of 1 percent from their 18 to 21 counterparts. This increases to 24 percent for the 30 to 39 age bracket and to 26 percent for males over 40.

    Similar changes will take place for women. The body fat percentage for women aged 18 to 21 is 33 percent. From 22 to 29, the percentage moves up to 34 percent. The 30 to 39 age bracket can hit up to 35 percent, and for over 40, 36 percent.

    Any sailors who don’t pass height and weight standards will just have their waist measured. Men are allowed 39 inches, and women 35.5 inches.

    According to Navy officials, the idea is to move away from a system of “one size fits all.”

    “We like to speak of a culture of fitness, but we really haven’t implemented a culture of fitness across the Navy,” Vice Adm. Bill Moran, chief of naval personnel, told Navy Times. “Fitness should truly be about being healthy and mission readiness — Are you physically fit for times of combat and stress in the fleet? We need a system that speaks to better health, to the readiness of our sailors. And part of that is, are we doing things to encourage a culture of fitness?”

    The physical fitness assessment occurs twice a year. In 2014, 5,000 sailors failed—first and foremost because they couldn’t pass the body composition assessment (BCA). Navy officials have even considered completely tossing out the BCA in the future.

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