All the US Armed Forces regularly asses the physical fitness of their members with a physical training (PT) test conducted on at least an annual, if not semi-annual, or quarterly, basis. Each of the services’ PT test is different from the others and reflects their respective traditions and standards.
For example, the Marines have three events consisting of pull-ups, abdominal crunches, and a three-mile timed run; the Army’s three events are push-ups, sit-ups, and a timed two-mile run; and the Air Force’s are TiVo programming, popcorn microwaving, and napping.*
In the Army, the passing score in each category for Soldiers is 60 points. As you will note by following the above links to the respective standards, the number of points earned in each event is based upon a sliding scale taking into account the Soldier’s respective sex and age – this recognizes the physiological differences between males and females as well as the impact of aging.
When I was a 19 or 20-something year old stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, I regularly maxed out on the two-mile run with times under 13-minutes, and on a few occasions, under 12-minutes. I distinctly remember teasing and taunting some of the older soldiers about how the sliding scale allowed them minutes more time to achieve a passing, let alone a maxing, score. The response was invariably something along the lines of, “Just you wait until reach my age – if you live that long.”
Well, the see-saw as tipped to the other side and find myself a wee bit grateful that being in the 42-46 year old category meant that when we took our record PT test this week, I only needed 30 push-ups to achieve the passing score of 60 points – although I still cranked out a count of 60-some repetitions (some were not counted when my form was less than perfect) for a near max score.
On the run, my age scored me almost 100 points, but I also smoked everyone in my section, except for one Soldier who is 17-years younger than me (my roommate!), with a time of 14:18.
Considering the physical condition I was in just a year ago, I was quite pleased to see these results of my PT efforts.
In any case, I could not help but laugh to myself at the poetic justice when some of those smoked disgruntled younger soldiers made comments that the only reason I got the second highest total PT score in our section was my age – it was like hearing myself echoing down through the years.
Now, at 44 years old, I am glad I came back into the Army to appreciate how my perspective has changed, but also to see how PT is still good for you, and good for me.