A new study has found that recruits entering the U.S. Army are the most out of shape they've ever been, Fox News reported.
The study, published in the Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases journal, shows the increased number of unfit recruits led to a soaring rate of injuries during basic training -- compounding the Army's existing challenges when it comes to finding new recruits.
The study found that in 2017, nearly 35% of initial-entry trainees suffered at least one musculoskeletal injury during training, with 62 percent of female trainees hurt compared to 32 percent of male recruits.
"The medical costs associated with treating the trainee injuries have piled up, with the study estimating that the Army spent $14.8 million on the issue in fiscal year 2017 alone," Fox News' report stated. "About $7.2 million of that cost was attributed to eight southern states, which included Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and North Carolina. New York and Rhode Island joined the southern states in the top 10."
Recruits from southern states accounted for the worst performers when it came to physical fitness.
"The military, and the Army especially, has its best chance of recruiting somebody in the southern states, they call it the 'Southern Crescent,'" said Thomas Spoehr, director for the Center for National Defense for the Heritage Foundation. "It highlights that their propensity or willingness or desire to serve isn't necessarily equated to the physical fitness level that people come in with."
As Fox News points out, the military, particularly the Army, is currently facing the worst recruiting crisis since the switch to an all-volunteer model nearly four decades ago.
Read the full report over at Fox News.