The Navy is ordering closer attention be paid to fitness test participants following a number of deaths over the past year, including two young female cadets who collapsed during the tests.

Four sailors have died in the past year during “seemingly normal physical fitness exercise,” according to a memo issued last week by the Navy.

"One loss is too many, and it is critical that every Sailor understands the risk factors for exercise-related death and the strategies to minimize those risks," the memo states, according to

New guidelines call for halting a participant’s physical activity when they show unusual distress or fatigue. The cadet is then allowed to make up the test at a later date. The Navy’s new policy also notes that everyone should be monitored during a 10-minute cool-down period.

The new guidelines come after seaman recruits Kelsey Nobles, 18, and Kierra Evans, 20, both collapsed during their final physical fitness tests at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois — Nobles in April and Evans in February. Both were about a week from graduating.

The Navy is still investigating the cause of Nobles’ and Evans’ deaths.

The Navy pointed to personal risk factors that can cause overexertion, including:

  • Illness, accumulated fatigue or dehydration
  • Poor conditioning or excessive body fat
  • Underlying heart condition
  • Exercise-induced asthma
  • Sickle cell trait
  • Poor performance on a past fitness test

"When sailors observe an emergency during physical training, rapid recognition of symptoms with a timely and accurate response is critical," states the memo.

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.