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U.S. Army won’t require Army Combat Fitness Test scores in training

Oct. 7 (UPI) — The U.S. Army will suspend use of its new fitness test as a requirement for graduation from training programs, citing COVID-19 concerns, it said on Wednesday.

A new version of the six-event Army Combat Fitness Test went into effect last week. The Army will encourages taking and passing the strength and fitness test, but the requirement to successfully complete it will be delayed until at least September 2021, the end of the fiscal year, Army officials told Stars and Stripes.

Suspension of the use of the test comes as the Army acknowledged constraints on training and testing due to the quarantining, social distancing and other protections required during COVID-19 pandemic, Megan Reed, spokesperson for the Army’s Center for Initial Military Training at Fort Eustis, Va., told Army Times.

While the test, regarded since Oct. 1 as the Army’s physical test of record, will still be administered, its successful completion is not required to advance from Army enlisted, officer or warrant officer training, Reed said.

The new test supersedes the decades-old, three-event Army Physical Fitness Test. It tests recruits in the deadlift, the standing power throw, pushups, the sprint-drag-carry, the leg tuck and a two-mile run carrying full combat gear.

The change brings fitness test policy for initial trainees in accord with similar fitness policies throughout the Army.

The delay for completion of the new test applies to Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training, One Station Unit Training, Warrant Officer Basic Course and the Basic Officer leader course.

While the new test won’t need to be completed, recruits in Basic Combat Training will still be required to pass an obstacle course, hand-to-hand combat training and a 10-mile march, Army officials said.

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Improving blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes improves cognitive scores, study says

Oct. 5 (UPI) — Controlling blood sugar levels helped people with Type 2 diabetes who were overweight improve cognitive scores, but losing weight, exercise had mixed results, a new study shows.

More than a quarter of U.S. adults 65 or older have Type 2 diabetes, which doubles the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, according to a statement from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

“It’s important to properly control your blood sugar to avoid the bad brain effects of your diabetes,” said study author Owen Carmichael said in a statement.

“Don’t think you can simply let yourself get all the way to the obese range, lose some of the weight, and everything in the brain is fine,” said Carmichael, a professor and director of Biomedical Imaging at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “The brain might have already turned a corner that it can’t turn back from.”

The study, published in the latest issue of The Journal of Clinical Endrocrinology and Metabolism, analyzed whether markers such as body weight, blood sugar control, and physical activity would be associated with improved cognition in 1,089 participants, age 45 to 76, who have Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers theorized that greater improvements in all three markers would lead to better cognitive test scores, but that turned out to be only partially true. While reducing blood sugar levels improved test scores, losing more weight and exercising more didn’t always do so.

“Every little improvement in blood sugar control was associated with a little better cognition,” Carmichael said. “Lowering your blood sugar from the diabetes range to prediabetes helped as much as dropping from prediabetes levels to the healthy range.”

Meanwhile, results from weight loss varied depending on the mental skill, according to Carmichael. More weight loss improved participants short-term memory, planning, impulse control, attention and the ability to switch tasks, but verbal learning and overall memory still declined.

“The results were worse for people who had obesity at the beginning of the study,” he added.

Similarly, Carmichael said the study showed that increasing physical activity also benefited people who were overweight more than people with obesity.

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