Welcome to the HPRC Blog. We've got lots of information here, from quick tips to in-depth posts about detailed human performance optimization topics.
On Memorial Day, Americans remember and honor those who gave their lives in service to our country. Its history extends back to the end of the Civil War, when it began as “Decoration Day” in 1868. At that time, observers decorated the graves of fallen service members in honor of their service. In 1971, Congress passed the law making it an official holiday.
In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance resolution to promote the observance of Memorial Day. The resolution asks that, at 3:00 p.m. (local time), Americans voluntarily, informally, and respectfully observe the National Moment of Remembrance by pausing their normal activities for a moment of silence. In addition, you can read about Taps, which Congress designated as the National Song of Remembrance in 2012, or listen to a recording online.
At HPRC, we express our deepest appreciation to fallen service members and their families. We acknowledge their sacrifices so others can live freely and extend our sincere sympathy to those who have lost loved ones.
HPRC is dedicated to supporting all service members and their families with usable information that can enrich their physical and emotional development. Our hope is that warriors and their loved ones, armed with this information, can minimize injury and build resilience.
Bicycle and motorcycle helmets save lives and help prevent serious brain and face injuries. Service members wear helmets on the battlefield to prevent death and serious head injury. Wearing helmets can reduce motorcycle-related deaths effectively. While bike helmets might not prevent concussions (a mild form of traumatic brain injury), they can go a long way toward preventing severe brain injuries.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014 alone, more than 4,500 motorcyclists were killed in motor-vehicle accidents and an estimated 88,000 motorcyclists were injured. Motorcycle-related deaths were a significant cause of non-combat deaths among veterans in 2013.
Motorcycle safety classes provide safe riding strategies. For example, the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence offers safety courses for active duty, reserve, and guard members. And the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center sponsors a motorcycle mentorship program that pairs new riders with experienced ones.
Ready to bike to work or school—or just for fun? Check out the League of American Bicyclists website for helpful cycling tips, videos, and more. Ride smart!
DHEA, short for dehydroepiandrosterone (also known as Prasterone), and chemical variations of this dietary supplement ingredient are commonly found in products marketed for sexual enhancement and bodybuilding such as testosterone boosters and prohormones. They’re also marketed to produce effects similar to anabolic steroids. Unlike anabolic steroids, DHEA is not illegal, but it is prohibited by professional sports organizations such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Members of the Coast Guard should especially look out for supplements containing this ingredient, as they are not permitted to take any substances NCAA classifies as anabolic agents. To learn more, visit the OPSS FAQ about DHEA.
“Fueling” your body with good nutrition can help calm your nerves—and your stomach—before giving your next speech or presentation. Try these tips to help prepare for the challenge.
- Be mindful of what you drink. Avoid carbonated drinks that could cause bloating or gas. Don’t drink alcohol thinking it could calm your nerves—as it could backfire badly. And the jury’s still out on whether drinking dairy causes phlegm and should be avoided before a speaking engagement. Tip: Drink cool or room-temperature water. Or a warm beverage such as tea with honey to help soothe your throat.
- Be mindful of what you eat. Eating fatty and/or sugary foods won’t provide staying power to help you feel your best. Avoid spicy foods that could cause stomach upset, especially if you’re already experiencing nervousness. And eating a heavy meal can make you sleepy. Tip: Eat something light such as lean protein and/or healthy carbohydrates to boost your energy.
Don’t skip drinking and eating due to nerves. You could be experiencing some of the same adrenaline hormones as when you participate in athletic events.
HPRC’s Going the Distance section offers helpful nutrition tips to prepare for endurance events. Use some of these strategies to stay fueled during “speech time” too.
Military kids are resilient in the face of unique challenges, but also might need extra emotional support along the way. They can experience struggles other children don’t face, such as their parents’ deployment. We don’t know the entire impact a parent’s deployment has on children, but some younger children seem to struggle more post-deployment. And kids mental health problems tend to increase when a parent returns injured.
Some parents or caregivers might see signs of anxiety in 3–5-year-olds with a parent on long-term deployment. These symptoms could include kids expressing lots of worries and repeatedly asking for reassurance. Some might also complain of physical symptoms, such as a headache or stomachache. Yet it’s also possible that some don’t experience any physical or emotional distress during their parent’s deployment. Overall, military kids tend to be resilient when a parent is deployed.
Still, military kids, like all kids, sometimes experience mental health concerns, including thoughts of suicide, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and cognitive and mood disorders. The percentage of military kids diagnosed with one or more concerns has increased over the past several years. This mirrors what’s happening in civilian families, possibly because pediatricians are getting better at diagnosing and/or referring children for mental health care.
If you suspect your child needs help, supports and resources are available. Consider using Military OneSource’s confidential video non-medical counseling services for active duty families, including kids and teens. Your children also can connect with other military kids at Military Kids Connect. This site offers help for kids coping with a parent’s deployment too.
In the meantime, visit HPRC’s Family Resilience section for tips on managing family stress and improving family relationships, which are important for kids’ strong mental health.
Good eye health is critical to your performance. The National Eye Institute (NEI) recommends maintaining a healthy lifestyle to keep your eyes strong and prevent vision damage. There are ways to help protect your eyesight.
- Get your eyes checked regularly.
- Wear protective eyewear (such as goggles and/or sunglasses).
- Limit staring at your smartphone.
- Avoid “computer eyes.”
- Learn about potential vision problems that can result from traumatic brain injury.
Whether you’re suffering from any eye injuries or conditions, or just have questions, check out the Vision Center of Excellence website for helpful resources. You can find eye-care providers there too.
And download the NEI’s Healthy Vision Month Fact Sheet to learn the 5 steps you can take to protect your vision.
Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) has a new infographic about stimulants. Do you want to know what types of dietary supplements commonly contain stimulants? Or how to tell if your supplement contains a stimulant? Or what can happen if you take too much or too many stimulants? Get up to speed and check out the infographic below with information on what you need to know about these dietary supplement ingredients. Use it in conjunction with the OPSS stimulants list to help you with these ingredients often found in dietary supplements.
The demands of deployment and combat can be stressful. It’s important to know that, if it gets to be too much for you to handle, you can get help. Here are some ways to find it.
Returning home, you might feel that nothing’s changed since you left, or you could have a rougher transition and experience sadness, sleep problems, anxiety, anger, heightened emotions, edginess, and/or trouble focusing. These are common and normal reactions to being in theater, but they can potentially be signs of mental health concerns too.
So when should you seek help? You can first use a mental health-screening tool that can guide you in the right direction. The assessment is free, anonymous, and available to service members and their families. However, it’s not intended as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
For accurate diagnosis, or to simply check in with a caring professional, consider consulting a qualified mental health therapist. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website offers good information and helpful resources. Also, Military OneSource offers support and services to improve your mental health and well-being. If you feel you're experiencing a potentially life-threatening problem, contact the Military Crisis Line online or call 800-273-8255 and press “1,” or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or by phone at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) also has a 24/7 Outreach Center featuring a hotline, email, chat, and phone number. And visit HPRC’s Suicide Prevention page. In an emergency, please dial 911.
Be proactive in addressing your mental health. And if you’re ever concerned about safety, err on the side of caution.
A mom with the right mindset feels that she can “get things done” and be a good parent, which impacts more than her to-do list. It can affect her satisfaction with family relationships and work-life balance too. The good news is that about half of younger moms (between the ages of 18 and 34) feel they’re very good at parenting. This is true if you’re married, living with a partner, or single-parenting—whether working inside or outside the home. Yet this means nearly half of younger moms feel less confident about their parenting skills.
Why does a mother’s confidence matter? Self-assured moms feel less overwhelmed when managing multiple responsibilities. And they can feel less stressed. Confident moms feel happier and pleased with their family relationships overall. Many experience greater satisfaction with their partners too.
Moms who work outside the home often juggle household tasks along with their job responsibilities. What helps them feel confident in their ability to accomplish everything? Those who are comfortable with their childcare decisions feel more effective at work. Good relationships with a supportive partner and encouraging supervisor also help keep your work-life balance in check. And when you feel confident at work, you feel capable of managing work and family needs—successfully and simultaneously.
Confidence is a mindset that needs nurturing. If you waver in your confidence as a mother, you might’ve fallen into a thinking trap—and you’ll need to work your way out. Take the Parenting Confidence Assessment to see where you stand. Parenting alone during your partner’s deployment? Check out Military OneSource for helpful tips and resources.
The truth is that the jury’s still out on whether running on a softer surface has less impact on joints and muscles. Some research suggests it might not actually matter, and the forces that impact your lower body on various surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, and grass don’t increase knee pain or injury risk. One explanation is that your body automatically adapts to the surface you’re running on. That means you’ll instinctively strike harder on softer surfaces, and strike softer on harder surfaces. On the other hand, some evidence suggests that running on softer surfaces (such as grass) reduces stress on your muscles and joints.
“But it feels better when I run on soft surfaces,” you might say. That difference in feeling is likely due to the different kinds of muscles, or stabilizers, you use when running on softer surfaces, which creates a sensation of less impact, although the overall impact on your body is the same.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t run on soft surfaces if it makes you feel better. Feeling better on a run goes a long way. However, softer surfaces such as trails, grass, or sand tend to be more uneven, which can pose a greater risk of strains and sprains.
When it comes to injury prevention and recovery, it’s also important to consider other factors such as wearing the right running shoes. And be sure to increase your running intensity and volume gradually to help avoid injury too.