Teddy Roosevelt, Navy Medicine and the Birth of Physical Readiness > United States Navy > News-Stories

In his autobiography, Roosevelt recalled, “Many of the more mature officers had been so unfit physically that their affliction would have psyched laughter, experienced it not been so significant to believe that they belonged to the armed service arm of the Federal government.”

Not becoming one to sit aimlessly aside on any challenge of value, Roosevelt billed forth with an endeavor to adjust the desk-sure lifestyle of the military services. As a consequence he assisted establish the forerunner of today’s Bodily Readiness Schooling (PRT) application/Physical Exercise Evaluation (PFA) cycle.

With out dilemma, Roosevelt was a physical fitness fanatic who a lot more than compensated in adulthood for the infirmities that plagued his childhood. He liked boxing, climbing, hiking, horseback using, polo, rowing, tennis, swimming, weightlifting and even jiu-jitsu. All of which he did to the extreme. He introduced work out machines to the White Household and even experienced a boxing ring established up in which he would spar with skilled prizefighters, which includes the famous John L. Sullivan. No matter if it was demanding exercise or outside daily life or political reform, Roosevelt seemed to immediate the comprehensive drive of his spirit into living the “strenuous everyday living.” As part of this philosophy he believed very little was attained with out tough get the job done and keeping one’s moral and bodily character was nearly a patriotic obligation.

On Nov. 17, 1908, Roosevelt proposed to the Secretary of the Navy Truman Newberry that the Navy wanted its possess bodily conditioning test. Less than Roosevelt’s omnipresent observe, Secretary Newberry and Rear Adm. Presley Marion Rixey, Navy Surgeon Typical, made a new once-a-year endurance test deserving of the president (and arguably molded in his picture!)

This new test gave officers the selection of finishing just one of a few alternatives: a fifty mile walk within just three consecutive times and in total of 20 hrs a journey on horseback at a distance of ninety miles within just 3 consecutive days or a journey on a bicycle at a distance of 100 miles inside a few consecutive days. All staff having the exam would be examined by a Navy Health care Board to establish whether the check may be taken with out danger and report yet again to the board on completion. Officers would not be promoted unless of course they handed the test and their professional medical report would now include a exercise report.

The Roosevelt endorsed bodily conditioning directive was issued as Navy Normal Order No. 6 on Jan. 4, 1909. As just one newspaper put it, “This [order] will give the corpulent sea fighters who have extensive occupied swivel chairs an option to get into fit condition for the ordeal.”

Just about promptly the directive was subject to criticism. Navy Surgeon James Gatewood complained that the stamina exam would leave contributors in a “depressed bodily state” and for that reason have a damaging effect on physical readiness. He considered the Navy would gain much more if it managed golf programs, bowling alleys and tennis courts at its installations. Other Navy medical staff proposed developing gymnasiums wherever both equally officers and enlisted would have access to workout “appliances.”

When Roosevelt still left business in March 1909 the authors of Navy General Buy No. 6 could do very little to make certain its survival. And in spite of being available a 3rd time period as Surgeon General, Rear Adm. Rixey made the decision to retire on Feb. 4, 1910. His successor Rear Adm. Charles Stokes claimed to the new SECNAV George von Meyer on Aug. 15, 1910 that “After 18 months it has been plainly shown that the objects sought for [with General Order No. 6] have not been attained. On the other hand considerably damage has been carried out to the support through the enforcement of this buy.” Stokes known as for the abolishment of the bodily take a look at and proposed shorter walks (25 miles in two days) and an “exercise time period for bodily betterment” pursuing the tenants outlined in the book Mit Program (1904) by Danish gymnastics educator Jørgen Peter Müller.

The Navy posted a revised Basic Get on Dec. 14, 1910 (Navy Normal Buy 94) that now utilized to both equally the Navy and Maritime Corps. Every single quarter officers would be necessary to wander twenty-5 miles in two consecutive days (five several hours authorized for each working day). The fitness checks had been even more modified by Typical Get No 127 on Oct. 14, 1911, which lessened the length to 10 miles in the time limit of four several hours every month. Finally, Roosevelt was not pleased with the adulteration of his system. In his autobiography, he insisted that a stroll completed in one particular working day was of no value in demonstrating endurance only an test that ongoing on succeeding times would show an individual’s physical ailment.

The physical health and fitness evaluation was in the end suspended on April 6, 1917 on account of World War I by Navy Basic Buy 284. Remarkably, the physical readiness experiment in the Navy would be laid to rest for virtually fifty decades in advance of remaining rekindled.

Whilst today’s health and fitness modalities are a significantly cry from the Navy’s inaugural PRT these same health and fitness and readiness ambitions remain as relevant as ever.

Annual Report of the Surgeon-Normal, U.S. Navy. Washington, DC: GPO. 1910, p36.

“Historical Qualifications on Actual physical Exercise in the Marine Corps.” USMC Historical Collections—Navy Section Library Reference Collections.

Lansford, Tom. Teddy Roosevelt in Point of view. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2005.

Navy Department Standard Order No. 6, January 6, 1909.

Navy Section Typical Order No. 94, 14 December 1910.

Navy Section Common Purchase 127 dated 14 October 1911.

Rixey, Presley. Memorandum for the Secretary of the Navy Relating to the President’s Recommendation as to the advisability of owning a actual physical exam for officers of the Navy. 20 November 1908. 116257. BUMED Correspondence Information. RG 52. Countrywide Archives.

Roosevelt, Theodore. An Autobiography. New York: Macmillan Organization, 1914. p48.

Roosevelt, Theodore to Truman Newberry. 17 November 1908. M & S No. 116257. BUMED Correspondence Documents. RG 52. Nationwide Archives.

Stokes, Charles to SECNAV Meyer. 15 August 1910. 120900. BUMED Correspondence Documents. RG 52. Countrywide Archives.

“Test for Naval Officers.” The Everyday Information. 20 January 1909. Frederick, MD.