BACKGROUND: The U.S. Army's Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) program represents a significant shift in the assessment of soldiers' well-being, moving from fitness testing as the primary measure of health. This shift acknowledges that sub-optimal lifestyle behaviors, particularly physical activity (PA), diet and sleep, have major effects on wellness and operational readiness. Notably, structured exercise is mandatory among active-duty military personnel; however, diet and sleep behaviors are not controlled. The purpose of this study was to examine modifiable lifestyle behaviors of Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) cadets, who serve as a surrogate military cohort with many similarities to active-duty counterparts. METHODS: 44 ROTC cadets (33 male) took an online survey and the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). The survey consisted of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Rapid Eating Assessment for Participants (REAPS) short form, and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ). Descriptive statistics, as medians (interquartile range), and Spearman correlation coefficients for lifestyle behaviors and ACFT scores were computed. RESULTS: Median PSQI scores were 6.0 (4.5,7.0), with 33 cadets being labeled as poor sleepers, and REAPS score were 29.0 (26.5,32.0), with 6 cadets being labeled as having poor nutritional habits. Cadets participated in 270 (138.75, 405) min/week of vigorous PA, 90 (5, 240) min/week of moderate PA and 1440 (900, 2160) min/week of sitting time. All cadets met ACSM PA guidelines. ACFT total scores were 524.0 (485.25, 549.75). There were no significant correlations between lifestyle behaviors or with ACFT total scores. CONCLUSION: The lack of correlation between lifestyle behaviors and ACFT scores supports the concepts embodied in the H2F framework, emphasizing the need to move beyond relying solely on fitness assessments for evaluating the overall health of military populations. Considering that a majority of cadets reported poor sleep, it appears sensible to implement sleep education interventions, as poor sleep has been linked to reduced cognitive and physical function as well as impaired recovery. It should be noted that ROTC cadets have distinct schedules and responsibilities as full-time students. Consequently, future research should examine lifestyle behaviors from more diverse military populations, including active-duty soldiers and other military branches.

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