Chapter 1 – Introduction
A soldier’s level of physical fitness’ has a direct impact on his combat readiness. The many battles in which American troops have fought underscore the important role physical fitness plays on the battlefield. The renewed nationwide interest in fitness has been accompanied by many research studies on the effects of regular participation in sound physical fitness programs. The overwhelming conclusion is that such programs enhance a person’s quality of life, improve productivity, and bring about positive physical and mental changes. Not only are physically fit soldiers essential to the Army, they are also more likely to have enjoyable, productive lives.
This chapter provides an overview of fitness. It defines physical fitness, outlines the phases of fitness, and discusses various types of fitness programs and fitness evaluation. Commanders and leaders can use this information to develop intelligent, combat-related, physical fitness programs.
Physical fitness, the emphasis of this manual, is but one component of total fitness. Some of the “others are weight control, diet and nutrition, stress management, dental health, and spiritual and ethical fitness, as well as the avoidance of hypertension, substance abuse, and tobacco use. This manual is primarily concerned with issues relating directly to the development and maintenance of the five components of physical fitness.
The Army’s physical fitness training program extends to all branches of the total Army. This includes the USAR and ARNG and encompasses all ages and ranks and both sexes. Its purpose is to physically condition all soldiers throughout their careers beginning with initial entry training (IET). It also includes soldiers with limiting physical profiles who must also participate in physical fitness training.
Commanders and leaders must ensure that all soldiers in their units maintain the highest level of physical fitness in accordance with this manual and with AR 350-15 which prescribes policies, procedures, and responsibilities for the Army physical fitness program.