ARLINGTON, Va. — Air Force civilians are now allowed to use up to three hours of work time each week for fitness activities, but anyone happily envisioning a leisurely nine holes of golf on Uncle Sam’s dime had better think again.

“Golf, bowling and softball are not considered aerobic activities and no official time will be granted for activities of this type,” Maj. Gen. John Speigel, the Air Force’s director of Personnel Policy, said in a letter announcing the new policy.

Defense civilians exercising during work hours “is not a new idea,” Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Jean Schaefer said in a Tuesday e-mail answering a query about her service’s policy.

The other services have had policies in place for several years that permit civilian employees to use “clock time” to work out.

The Navy implemented its policy and one for the Marine Corps on Feb. 14, 1992, and the Army began its own civilian exercise program four years later, on March 26, 1996, according to service documents.

So for the Air Force, the late June policy “was an attempt to try to reach parity with the other services,” Schaefer said.

In fact, “this policy has been in the developmental stages since 2000,” she said.

The Air Force is on a mission to banish a long-standing reputation that its servicemembers are pampered folks who spend all their time in weatherproof cockpits or behind desks, not humping heavy rucksacks over miles of muddy hills.

Earlier this summer, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper decreed that the traditional Air Force fitness test — a bicycle ride — will in January change to include a 1.5-mile run and a series of push-ups and sit-ups.

Today’s increased operational tempo and harsh mission environments demand more stamina and strength, Jumper said in explaining the change, which brings the Air Force more in line with fellow service fitness tests.

Now it’s the civilians’ turn — although no service, including the Air Force, requires its nonmilitary workers to pass fitness tests.

The new policy doesn’t allow Air Force civilians to skip off whenever they feel like it during the workday to play an impromptu pick-up basketball game.

First, individual commanders must decide whether to participate in the fitness program. If commanders approve, individual employees may participate if their direct supervisors give the OK.

But first, employees must submit a “physical fitness plan” that includes fitness goals, which activities he or she intends to perform to meet those goals and a physician’s statement that says the employee is medically able to participate in physical fitness activities.

And duty time for physical fitness activities will be limited to one hour in any duty day — and that includes travel to the gym, showering and changing, Speigel’s letter said.

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