PETERSON AFB, CO - A recent study has revealed the surprising result that Air Force physical fitness test scores increase dramatically when participants are crying. Dr. Lamm Baum, a military psychologist, and Tim Coning, a Health and Wellness Center employee and former drill sergeant, teamed up to conduct tests on a standardized group of active duty Air Force personnel under a variety of conditions to determine the ideal environment to conduct physical evaluations.
“The Air Force wants to give its airmen every opportunity to succeed,” Dr. Baum said in an interview. “The physical and mental health of the force is of prime importance to us.”
Dr. Baum and Mr. Coning conducted almost a dozen fitness tests with the same group of people under different conditions, such as inside vs. outside, hot weather vs. cold weather, and socks vs. no socks. The team hit a breakthrough when Mr. Coning refused to count thirty out of thirty five push-ups an airman had done because her arms were not at a completely ninety degree angle with her shoulders exactly flush with her upper arms.
“I told her she should stop being such a little wussy-girl about having to follow the rules, and she started to cry. But boy, did she fly through her sit-ups and the run after that, crying all the way!” Mr. Coning recalls fondly.
To demonstrate repeatability, the team thought of other ways to make participants cry, telling one lieutenant just before the test began that his mother had died, and “accidentally” dousing another sergeant with pepper spray.
“Our results were consistent. We had found the magic formula for higher fitness scores,” Dr. Baum concluded in her final report.
The Air Force has yet to implement any policy changes based on Dr. Baum and Mr. Coning’s work, but possibilities range from watching the last ten minutes of Schindler’s List just before beginning exercise, to shocking people with tasers before and during the test.