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Military studies "hyperfit" women who pass their toughest physical and mental courses

Who are the "hyper-fit" women of the military who are capable of their most difficult physical and mental courses, and what makes them so competitive?

Army medical researchers have attempted to find answers in a recent volunteer study.

During the early debate over the opening of all women's combat jobs, military leaders wondered if women were up to the job or if their frontline deployment would affect unit capabilities. The Marine Corps requested an exemption to keep some combat jobs closed for precisely this reason, and then Secretary of Defense Ash Carter overruled this (AP Photo / Steven Senne) "/>

Researcher Leila Walker, left, supported by Nutritionist Holly McClung, Center, demonstrated at the US Army Command Soldier Center in Natick, Mass. last April (AP Photo / Steven Senne) fitness assessment equipment for female soldiers, not shown.

However, women have progressively made it through the nine-week Army Ranger course, and the number of those seeking other special operations is slowly increasing. The courses covered a number of phases, ranging from about nine weeks to a year or two for most command jobs.

They included a wide range of strenuous physical fitness tests, fighting water survival, day and night shipping, long heavy-baggage marches, extensive patrols through various climates, and extensive mental, psychological, and leadership tests.

In the nearly four years since the Pentagon announced the opening of all women's combat jobs, at least 30 have been Army Rangers, two have graduated from the Marine Corps School, and three have passed the strenuous initial phase of Green Beret training.

"We are really interested in the elite women who are the first to undergo the physically demanding workout," said Holly McClung, a nutritional physiologist at Massachusetts Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. "The real purpose of the study is to characterize this unique cohort of women who has made it through these traditionally male workouts."

The goal, McClung said, was to identify the attributes ̵

1; whether mental, physical or psychological – to help women succeed. By unlocking these secrets, they might be able to help other women apply for the same jobs.

McClung and Julie Hughes, a research physiologist, planned to bring the military women in groups to an army base in Natick, Massachusetts, two or three, and undergo a series of tests over three days to identify biological and physiological markers help define them as hyperfit. McClung said several tests will make the competition more interesting and stimulating at the same time.


said Hughes. "There is this group of women who made it through training, so we want them to do at least these observational studies to find out what makes them unique."

This breath test, along with others on blood, calcium and iron To determine the physical fitness of women, use levels as well as bone density scans and exercise programs. Other written tests and interviews would assess their mental resilience and psychological resilience.

The women were expected to take three psychological exams to determine their resilience, resilience and resilience.

For example, the military version of the listed endurance test statements and asked people to determine on a scale of one to five whether the statement was definitive or mostly false, "do not know" or mostly or definitely true. Some examples of the statements: I enjoy most things in life; I often feel helpless; I like to have a lot of structure in my life. I plan exactly everything I do; it bothers me when my daily routine is interrupted; and my achievements are due to my efforts and skills.

Mark Esper, President Trump's nominee for the Secretary of Defense, said the study will be important to understand fitness and possibly lower the injury rate. He served as an army secretary when this study was first presented.

"You have to have a certain amount of athletic ability, but they bring it to an extraordinary level. These women are tough.

McClung announced on July 12 that the final study was approved. She said that if more women attend one of the military training courses, they could be added to the study.


McClung and Hughes also said that they hope it will be able to compare the results of women with similar tests in men.

"I think we're encouraged to [the women will] be ready to participate," Hughes said. "They want to be counted."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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