Get in peak condition with an educational fitness program
By Lt. Col. David Hook, 5th Space Launch Squadron commander
/ Published January 29, 2009
CAPE CANVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- By now you have probably already heard about the findings of a recent worldwide audit on the effectiveness of the Air Force's fitness program. You know the report... the one that finds Airmen are not routinely getting their minimum prescribed weekly exercise, and that the "fit to fight" program encourages a "fit to test" mentality. This mindset ultimately threatens our readiness. Senior Air Force leadership is rumored to be considering steps to encourage regular exercise and to promote a culture that values a lifelong healthy lifestyle.
As the Air Force renews its focus on physical fitness, consider also the importance of educational fitness on our readiness. Our nation needs Airmen that understand emerging technologies, can command and operate in today's dynamic environment, while also appreciating the unchanging nature of warfare. I'm not talking about the importance of completing your CCAF degree, SOS by correspondence, or even earning a Master's degree. While these are worthwhile endeavors, the kind of educational fitness I'm talking about continues long after you have proudly mounted your diploma on your office wall. We need a culture that embraces a lifelong commitment to learning. We can fortunately apply many of the same principles of physical fitness to our educational fitness. A few simple tips will help you get started.
First, just as your physical fitness should not be left to chance, your educational fitness should be guided by a program of regular study. Set aside time to read and reflect on your profession of arms and current events, even if it's just for fifteen minutes a day. A good starting point for your program is the CSAF Reading List, which recommends books for Airmen of all ranks. Modify the list to suit your personal interests.
Second, consider adding some educational cross training to your program by including books from the other services' reading lists. Just as an effective physical fitness program incorporates different sports to keep your training fun and interesting, your reading plan should feature many different subjects and sources of information. Some of your best learning will come from authors with whom you disagree.
Lastly, recruit a partner to join you in your educational fitness program. A good partner will challenge your assumptions and question your understanding of your studies. Just as a good running partner helps to push you beyond your endurance limits, a reading partner will help you get the most out of each article.
Follow these simple tips and you should be well on your way to getting in peak educational fitness and readiness. Just do it!