The space force of the United States officially announced that the branch of the military will get rid of its normal annual fitness tests and instead have them wear fitness devices that track the physical and mental health of the guardians starting in 2023.
Guardians have been made to undergo an annual fitness assessment similar to those in the Air Force. However, as of now with this new approach, guardians will wear a smart ring or other wearable fitness devices, which will most likely end up being made by Oura and Garmin.
This new methodology could end up changing just how military leaders actually evaluate service members in the future while still maintaining their high-performance levels.
"This program will promote not just physical fitness," stated the Space Force deputy chief of space operations for personnel, Patricia Mulcahy, via a memo that was explained by NPR. "It will pair fitness with robust education on diet, sleep hygiene, and other physiological factors to promote social, mental and spiritual health as well."
The senior enlisted leader for Space Force’s Training and Readiness Command, Chief Master Sergeant James Seballes, explained to NPR that the devices would not just help track and maintain fitness goals, but the tech would also offer more analysis of the guardians’ activity.
"Our standards really haven’t changed, right? We still are utilizing the Air Force [physical training] standards," expressed Seballes. "The difference is in our approach."
He stated that fitness has often been utilized as a "go, no-go kind of thing."
"You either have it, or you don’t," he stated. "I’ve known folks that can do all their [physical training] aspects and run a really fast mile and a half, but yet their eating habits are poor."
"Their sleeping habits are poor. They’re not healthy," continued Seballes.
Patrick Hitchins, the CEO of FitRankings, which is an Austin-based company that is building a new platform solely for use in the Space Force, explained to NPR that such tests have some dimensionality that will end up favoring some activities over others.
Maj. Gen. Shawn Bratton, commander of Space Training and Readiness Command, claimed, as reported by the Daily Mail, that he plans to encourage the more modern digital approach, thinking that it could end up encouraging service members to take care of their health on a more personal level.
"There’s increased responsibility on me, not just once a year to take a fitness test, for example, but maybe to exercise 90 minutes a week," stated Bratton to NPR. "The ring helps me keep track of that as well as my sleep patterns."
It was reported by NPR that the decision to swap over the fitness model takes place after research showed that some subsets of military members developed eating disorders or other behaviors depleting their health.
Until the inception of the new health assessment model next year, the newest military branch's 8,400 members must undergo one minute of pushups, situps, and a timed 1.5-mile run.