Washington, Dc — Government officials say fitness programs are working to make the military healthier despite more airmen and sailors being discharged because they are unfit and overweight.

In 2003, 331 airmen were administratively separated. At that time, the Air Force had specific weight and body fat requirements and required a cycle ergometry test. In 2004, the Air Force began its Fit to Fight program that included no specific weight requirements, just the abdominal circumference measurement, the 1.5-mile run, and timed push-ups and sit-ups. In 2004, only one enlisted member was separated as a direct result of fitness failure, but in fiscal 2005, discharges climbed to seven, according to the military newspaper Stars and Stripes. In fiscal 2006, 73 discharges for fitness reasons occurred, and in fiscal 2007, 119 enlisted members were separated.

The Navy also is discharging more sailors for fitness or weight reasons. In fiscal 2005, 65 sailors were removed due to a personal fitness assessment failure, and in 2006, that number grew to 1,913, according to figures from the Navy Times.

However, since 2005, the Navy enacted a tougher fitness policy, and Navy officials say they're seeing a drop in fitness test failures, proof that sailors are getting serious about fitness. The fitness policy states that three failures in four years can trigger automatic separation.