An extended training period to be introduced for the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) will give servicemen more time to pass - but could also result in poorer fitness levels, warn exercise experts.
Currently, operationally ready servicemen (NSmen) have nine months to clear their IPPT, and if they fail, they have to do 20 sessions of remedial training (RT) over three months.
With the changes, they will get a whole year to train for and take their IPPT. And if they fail, they will get 12 months to attend RT, under one of 30 recommendations submitted to the Government last month by a high-ranking panel to improve National Service.
The recommendations, which were accepted on Tuesday, will be implemented over the next few years.
Most NSmen have backed the change. In the past, many complained about being unable to complete RT because of time constraints or the lack of availability at fitness centres in army camps, where training is conducted.
But fitness experts warn that the time extension might also lower fitness standards if participants do not do any exercise on their own, as they need to exercise three to five times a week to get fit.
Mr Mohammad Azhar Bin Yusof, senior lecturer at the National Institute of Education's Physical Education and Sports Science Academic Group, noted that spreading the 20 sessions over 12 months might help NSmen to better manage and juggle their various commitments.
"However, if they do not do any exercise or training on their own, they are unlikely to develop their fitness to a sufficiently good level to pass the IPPT," he said.
Fitness trainer Edmund Tan, who runs boutique gym Physical ABuse, believes that giving NSmen four times as long to train will not achieve the same results as putting them through a concentrated period of training.
"Consistency over time is very important," he said.