process at which the fitness screen is applied. However, the nature and setting of the training program is likely to depend on the phase of the process at which it is incorporated. For example, if fitness was assessed at any point prior to arrival at basic training, those found to be low fit could be provided with guidelines for self-management of a physical training program, or they could be referred to community-based programs that meet specified standards or criteria. Alternatively, low-fit recruits could be referred to physical training programs that would be delivered by the military branch and completed prior to initiation of basic training.
The body of knowledge in exercise science and widely accepted professional guidelines provide an extensive and solid basis for the design and delivery of physical fitness programs for healthy adults (American College of Sports Medicine, 1998, 2005). This knowledge base indicates that an individual’s physical fitness level is determined by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, with the key environmental factor being recent physical activity participation. The scientific literature on exercise training shows that individuals vary greatly in their adaptations to a particular physical training program; that is, some persons demonstrate pronounced increases in fitness as a result of training, while others show minimal or no change (American College of Sports Medicine, 1998, 2005). However, almost all low-fit persons show some increase in fitness with physical training, and the majority experience substantial increases in fitness with sustained exposure to training. Hence, there is a well-established technology for enhancing physical fitness in healthy young adults, and extensive scientific evidence demonstrates that most young adults can increase their fitness substantially with increased exercise participation (American College of Sports Medicine, 1998, 2005). There seems little question about the efficacy of physical training programs to increase physical fitness in low-fit recruits who would be identified through a fitness test.
As with physical fitness testing procedures, referral of low-fit recruits to exercise training programs would involve additional costs. If the training programs were undertaken prior to induction, these costs could be borne primarily by the individual recruit. However, the costs would be borne by the military branch if recruits are referred to special physical training programs after recruitment but prior to initiation of basic training. Also, exercise training involves some short-term health risks, although these risks are minimal in young, healthy adults.
Physical training is a central component of the basic training protocol of all military branches. This component addresses two broad goals. First,