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Army raising fitness norms for women

The Army is raising slightly its standards of physical fitness for women as part of an overall adjustment of qualifications for both sexes.

The changes, confirmed by Army officials in advance of a Pentagon announcement Thursday, are intended to take into account contemporary knowledge about physiology, training and injury prevention. They also are expected to address a longstanding source of irritation for male soldiers who resent lower standards for women.In a report last month reflecting the results of a large survey of male and female soldiers, an Army panel reported widespread complaints by females of sexual dis-crimination. Males also felt aggrieved by some types of gender bias - including what the men saw as too-easy physical standards for women.

The new fitness system will not set equal standards for men and women. It will require that women be able to do slightly more push-ups and finish a two-mile run slightly faster than under the old system adopted in 1984, officials said.

The fitness test sets a base for physical qualifications in the Army. Other levels for strength and endurance are established for specific jobs in the service.

Under the old standards, a 25-year-old man is required to do 40 push-ups and 47 sit-ups in two minutes and complete a two-mile run in 16 minutes 36 seconds. A woman the same age must do 16 push-ups, 45 sit-ups and run two miles in 19 minutes 36 seconds.