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Joel Nevarz works out intensly at the Callaghan Center in Portsmouth, Va. as he rocks out to his ipod. Nevarz who is from the USS George Washington says he goes to the gym at least four times a week.
Joel Nevarz works out intensly at the Callaghan Center in Portsmouth, Va. as he rocks out to his ipod. Nevarz who is from the USS George Washington says he goes to the gym at least four times a week. (Mari Matsumoto / U.S. Navy)

ARLINGTON, Va. — Starting in Spring 2007, sailors may do 12 minutes on an elliptical trainer as part of their Physical Readiness Tests instead of running if their commanding officers OK it, Navy officials said Monday.

The goal will be to burn as many calories as possible in 12 minutes, according to NAVADMIN (Navy Administrative Message) 293/06.

In November, the Navy plans to release information on how many calories sailors have to burn within the 12-minute time period based on differences such as age and gender, said Heather Pouncey, who oversees the Navy’s PRT programs.

The elliptical offers the same cardiovascular workout as a 1.5-mile run while putting less stress on the knees, legs and lower back, officials said.

Running on hard surfaces can aggravate pre-existing musculoskeletal injuries, Pouncey said.

The elliptical trainer provides an option for sailors who are temporarily exempted from taking the PRT for medical reasons, she said.

Such sailors are still required to pass the PRT once their waiver expires, she said.

Also, it may be a challenge to find space to run on ships, and that’s why having an elliptical trainer or treadmill on board provides alternatives, she said.

The elliptical trainer might also provide an option for sailors who don’t like to run or prefer to use exercise machines, Pouncey said.

But ultimately, commanding officers will decide whether sailors can do the elliptical trainer, treadmill or swim tests as an alternative to the 1.5-mile run, Pouncey said.

The PRT has become especially important this year, with the Navy announcing that sailors who fail three PRT or body composition tests in four years will be separated, Pouncey said.

In the last year, 1,913 sailors have been forced out of the Navy because of the new policy, she said.

But overall, the number of sailors who fail the PRT is down, Pouncey said.

Information on how many calories sailors have to burn off will be available at: www.npc.navy.mil/commandsupport/physicalreadiness.

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