Physical fitness is a primary component of the Cadet Program. There are two facets to cadet's physical fitness:
Training - Fitness training includes stretching, calisthenics, fitness drills, circuits, team sports, and any activities that are fun but still physically challenging. As a cadet you’re expected to give your fullest effort because you’re not really exercising if you’re not training hard. Your training will also include briefings on the basic principles of exercise, why fitness is important, and how to exercise safely. Don’t limit yourself to the training done in your squadron – we expect you to use your self-discipline by exercising on your own, too.
Testing - Because it is vital to be physically fit, passing the Cadet Physical Fitness Test (CPFT) is one of your promotion requirements. For every achievement, you must take and pass all four elements of the CPFT. Just as you prepare for aerospace and leadership tests, you’ll want to prepare for the CPFT by exercising three times per week.
If you want your fitness training to be effective and safe, you have to adhere to certain basic exercise principles whether you are an Olympic athlete or a cadet. Those principles include:
Regularity: For training to be productive, cadets must exercise regularly. Exercising only once in a while can do more harm than good. Regularity is also important in resting, sleeping, and following a good diet.
Progression: The intensity (how hard) and/or duration (how long) of exercise must gradually increase to improve the level of fitness.
Balance: To be effective, a program should include activities that address all the fitness components – strength, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance -- since overemphasizing any one of them may hurt the others.
Variety: Providing a variety of activities reduces boredom and increases motivation and progress. Exercise is hard work. You will stick with a program only if it’s lively and fun.
Specificity: Training must be geared toward specific goals. For example, cadets who need to lower their mile run time will become better runners if their training emphasizes running. Although swimming is a great exercise, it does not improve the 1-mile run time as much as a running program does.
The CPFT consists of four events:
The Sit and Reach tests flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings.
Curl Ups test abdominal strength and endurance.
Push Ups test upper body strength and endurance.
The Mile Run or Shuttle Run tests heart and lung endurance. Cadets may choose to test in either or both events. If they fail the mile, they may then attempt the shuttle run instead, or vice versa. In inclement weather, commanders may stipulate that only the shuttle run be administered.
Video Clips courtesy of R. Sims, 2003
For more information regarding the CPFT testing process and goals for individual achievements and milestones, please refer to CAPP 52-18, Cadet Physical Fitness Program.
Senior Members may participate with Cadets during fitness training activities, using good judgment and common sense. When exercising, they must follow the same safety guidelines required of cadets.
The following excerpt from CAPP 151(E) is applicable to both Cadets and Senior Members:
National Headquarters Civil Air Patrol CAP Pamphlet 151 (E)STANDARDS, CUSTOMS AND COURTESIES
Section A - Civil Air Patrol Environment
12. Physical Fitness.You are responsible for keeping yourself in good physical condition and maintaining your weight within Civil Air Patrol standards. This is important to both the Civil Air Patrol and you. Good physical condition and proper weight will help you fulfill your responsibility with vigor, alertness and provide you the energy and capacity to respond to emergency situations as well as pursue leisure time activities. By maintaining a lean and fit appearance you also project the image expected of all Civil Air Patrol personnel as a member of the USAF Auxiliary. Command and supervisory involvement are integral parts of ensuring compliance with the fitness and weight programs.