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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.

Stimulants – Are you up to speed?

Check out the new OPSS infographic about stimulants!

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.

Full Image of the Stimulants PDF

Feeling stressed? Help is available.

HPRC Fitness Arena: Family & Relationships, Mind Body
May is Mental Health Month. Learn more about assessing your own mental health and getting help.

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.

Confident moms are happier

Can moms really do it all? Learn how feeling confident at work and home leads to greater happiness.

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.

What surface is best for running?

Runners often hear the suggestion to “run on softer surfaces to save your knees.” When it comes to running and injury prevention, does surface matter?

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. 

Mind-body help for breast cancer

Filed under: Cancer, Mind-body, Yoga
It’s National Women’s Health Week! Breast cancer affects MANY women. Medical doctors can guide your recovery, but learn how complementary-health techniques can help you feel empowered.

Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and meditation could help you cope with different aspects and symptoms of breast cancer. Stress-management programs such as music therapy and mind-body techniques (for example, yoga and mindfulness meditation) could bring some relief too.

You could experience anxiety, depression, and/or stress during your recovery. Many patients and survivors also suffer from fatigue or sleep problems. Qigong (moving meditation), gentle yoga, and stress management techniques can help ease fatigue and improve sleep habits. And make sure you monitor your energy. Don’t try to take on too much.

If you’re receiving chemotherapy and experiencing nausea, other complementary-health approaches such as electroacupuncture and acupressure can help. A mind-body technique known as progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing your muscles, could ease discomfort too.

HPRC offers additional resources on mind-body techniques and yoga. Adding these “weapons” to your arsenal might help you or someone you love in the battle against breast cancer. 

Fueling up for the PFT/PRT

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Physical Fitness
Getting ready for your PRT/PFT? Check out these tips that can help you pass with flying colors!

One of the best but most-overlooked ways to prepare for your Physical Fitness (PFT) or Physical Readiness Tests (PRT) is to make sure your body is well fueled. Proper fuel and a good workout strategy can get you ready to take on the challenge!

  • Keep hydrated. Drinking enough fluids will help your body function at its highest level. These amounts can vary depending on weather and location. Don’t restrict drinking water because you’re worried about weigh-in. This can backfire at test time.
  • Eat something light. You’ll need enough fuel to perform well, but too much can slow you down. Proper fuel should come from a high-carbohydrate source about 200–300 calories such as cereal, fruit, and milk. Or a slice of whole-wheat bread with egg or nut butter. Yogurt and fruit are nourishing pre-test snacks too. And try to eat 30–60 minutes before your PFT/PRT, if possible.
  • Avoid trying new foods. Try new bars, chews, gels, or other foods during training, but not before your test because you could experience gastrointestinal upset. Give yourself time to use the bathroom before too.

HPRC also offers good advice to help set your workout plan in place. Keep your body strong, fueled, and hydrated—and perform your best!

Acacia rigidula: another FDA target

Dietary supplement products containing Acadia rigidula are not allowed.

Another ingredient that has been showing up in dietary supplement products recently is Acadia rigidula. FDA recently declared that it is not acceptable in such products because it falls in the class known as a “new dietary ingredient.” A. rigidula is just the latest in a series of ingredients FDA has disallowed for this reason. Others include DMAA, DMBA, BMPEA, and aegeline. Visit the Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) FAQ about Acacia rigidula to learn more, and explore the OPSS FAQs about ingredients to learn about others not permitted in dietary supplement products. especially BMPEA, which has been associated with A. rigidula.

Navigate a hostile work environment

Filed under: Harassment, Workplace
A hostile work environment can impact your ability to perform your job. Learn how to resolve this challenging situation.

A hostile work environment can impact work performance and well-being, but help is available. There generally are two hostile-workplace scenarios: unlawful harassment—also known as unlawful discrimination or prohibited harassment—and bullying. There can be a difference in how these situations are handled when reported, so it helps to know the difference.

Unlawful harassment occurs when an employee is subject to unwelcome verbal and/or physical conduct or feels discriminated against based on his/her sex, race, color, religion, or national origin (as identified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964).

Sexual harassment is unlawful harassment and gender-based discrimination. It includes unwelcome sexual advances and/or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Unlawful-harassment behavior often repeats and can interfere with work performance.

Bullying can include similar behaviors, but isn’t based on one’s sex, race, etc. Employees can feel victimized through sabotaged work efforts, offensive conduct, and/or verbal abuse. Whether the behavior stems from unlawful harassment or bullying, it’s unacceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated.

Here are some tips to help develop a plan of action. And act sooner rather than later.

  • Tell the offender(s) that the conduct is unwelcome and offensive. Ask him/her to stop.
  • If it continues, or if you’re uncomfortable directly confronting the offender(s), report it to your supervisor immediately. Your supervisor has a duty to respond promptly and help prevent recurrences.
  • If your supervisor doesn’t respond—or is the source of the harassment—go to your higher chain-of-command. You also can file a formal complaint with the Inspector General, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), or any chaplain.
  • If you’re working in the civilian sector, contact your civilian personnel action center and/or your EEO office.
  • Finally, if you or someone you know is feeling physically threatened, contact law enforcement immediately.

Learn more about the different branch policies:

Putting some fun into recovery

Learn how therapeutic recreation can be part of the healing process or fitness program for injured and/or ill service members.

Getting fit and staying healthy can be especially challenging for service members with chronic illnesses, injuries, or disabilities. The good news is that recreation therapy can make the process less painful. Recreation therapists can help motivate and design activities that are enjoyable while they improve both physical and mental function and fitness. Therapeutic recreation also can help make subsequent life more enjoyable.

The American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA) suggests that those who are more active lead more satisfying, happier, and healthier lives. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and DoD recommend injured veterans get involved in adaptive sport programs and/or recreation therapy as part of their rehabilitation. Most rehabilitation hospitals have a recreation therapist on staff who can help develop individualized programs. There are also local and national programs such as the VA Adaptive Sports Program, Paralympics, and the Military Adaptive Sports Program.

Army app predicts altitude sickness

HPRC Fitness Arena: Environment, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Altitude, Environment
Learn how a new app can help leaders predict and plan around the likelihood of Soldiers experiencing acute mountain sickness.

The Altitude Readiness Management System (ARMS) app’s designed to predict how likely Soldiers are to experience acute mountain sickness and decreased physical performance at various altitudes. Using this new Android app (developed by the U.S Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine), leaders can plan mountain missions around those likely to be impacted by sickness.

The ARMS app also provides an acclimatization module for planning strategic ascents and rests to minimize sickness. Altitude sickness can cause serious symptoms including nausea, fatigue, headaches, and weakness, affecting health and the mission itself too. While the app can’t prevent illness, it can help minimize the impact of mountain sickness, set appropriate expectations, and improve readiness and performance. The app has been fielded to the U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) only, but it might be available to the public soon.

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