The Space Force’s new fitness regime has landed | Space


The Space Force has kicked off a two-year pilot program to see how well it can manage the fitness of its troops with a much lighter touch than is usual in the military.

Through June 30, the U.S. military’s newest branch is asking members to volunteer for a study that monitors their cardiac, respiratory and musculoskeletal health using Garmin watches and Oura rings. If the initiative goes well, it could pave the way for the Pentagon’s first large-scale system for tracking readiness using wearable tech instead of annual fitness tests.

“We’re really trying to pioneer for all of DoD a better way to support our members throughout their lives, during their service and beyond,” said James Christensen, who runs the study at the Air Force Research Laboratory, on a podcast episode the service released Tuesday.

The program is one of three pillars in the Space Force’s new plan to promote force-wide health that was formally announced Wednesday.

The effort is to drive home the proposition that fitness is more than hitting the gym. It emphasizes a more holistic range of “preventive health” habits to help avoid illness and complications and promote mental wellness, like good nutrition and sleep practices. And it includes an educational component, to add those concepts into training that already exists.

“I think physical fitness not only improves our cognitive abilities at work, but it will decrease absenteeism, it will increase happiness — there’s all kinds of benefits,” Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force Roger Towberman said on the podcast.

The Space Force’s willingness to break the mold acknowledges how ubiquitous wearable fitness tech has become in modern life, and the hope that the service can avoid the pitfalls of other military fitness regimes that prioritize standards over performance.

Because space operations entail more desk work — like sitting at a satellite control console or monitoring missile launch data on a computer — than other… read more

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