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.
HPRC Fitness Arena: Physical Fitness
The U.S. Army has retooled its yearly physical fitness test with more practical exercises geared to finding out if soldiers are in fighting shape. Along with other changes to the current test, troops will be required to run an obstacle course while dressed in full combat armor and dragging 180 pounds‹the equivalent of a human body.
The new Army Physical and Combat Readiness Test is being introduced at eight installations, and if all goes well, will be rolled out Army-wide on October 1st.
Click below to access the article.
A recent article suggests taking small breaks from hours of sitting. Try standing to answer phone calls or visiting a coworker instead of emailing them. Although this doesn’t replace regular physical activity, taking one-minute sitting breaks can help decrease your waistline and improve metabolic health. Click here to read more.
The amount of the time spent sleeping is decreasing: the average amount of sleep reported for middle-aged people in the late 1050s—around eight to nine hours—has decreased in recent times to about seven or eight hours. And the number of individuals who sleep less than six hours each night has significantly increased. These changes in sleep patterns may be indicative of sleep deprivation in society at large. This is not surprising, as the modern society seems to offer twice as much work (on the job, at home, etc.) and half as much time to complete it. Consequently, we are awake for extended periods of time, thus reducing the amount of time we spend sleeping.
However, we all know that sleep is essential! Sleep is vital to restore and renew many body systems; and sleep deprivation may result in poor performance, increased sleepiness, reduced alertness, delayed response time, difficulty maintaining attention, decreased positive mood, and increased long-term health risks. Some research studies have even shown that sleep deprivation is associated with increased risk of death.
So adequate sleep is vital for everyone to optimally perform the activities of daily living. But you may wonder, “How can I determine how much sleep I need to function at my best?” Dr. Michael Bonnet, director of the Sleep Laboratory at the Dayton. Ohio, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center provides a very simple but practical test you can use to determine how much sleep you need. According to him, if you need an alarm clock to wake up, try going to bed a little earlier the following night (e.g., 15 minutes earlier). If you still need an alarm clock to wake up the next morning, push your bedtime a little earlier again (i.e., another 15 minutes). Continue doing this until you no longer need an alarm to wake up.
I actually tried this test and found out I was not the “night owl” I thought I was. It looks like I function at my best if I retire for the night a couple of hours earlier than I used to. Sleep is important! It significantly affects your performance, health, and quality of life. And it is especially important to Warfighters, who can rarely get enough when deployed. So in addition to a healthy diet and regular exercise, try to get enough sleep each night whenever your situation makes it possible.
Source: National Sleep Foundation
First lady Michelle Obama called on parents, schools, workplaces and the military to combat America's obesity epidemic in a visit to Fort Jackson this past Thursday. As America's waistline has grown, finding young people fit enough to serve in the military has become a problem, U.S. Army officials told Obama during her three-hour visit.
Ms. Obama is promoting the "Let's Move!" program to combat childhood obesity. And she met with Army personnel, from privates to a three-star general, to find out how the military is dealing with the problem and how solutions might be transferred to the general population.
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Fitness is so important to your mental and physical health. Consider scheduling exercise into your work day; put it on your calendar! Keep packable tools like elastic tubing and bands at your desk. You can easily strengthen your chest, upper back, shoulders, arms, and legs in just a few minutes, two or three times a week. All without leaving your office! For ideas, click here: ACE GETFIT: Time saving tips for on-the-job fitness
For a warfighter, sleep can be just as important to the mission as having enough food, water and ammunition. Realwarriors.net has a great piece on the common myths about sleep and six tips to improve sleep habits while settling into a new routine away from home.
Can’t find time to fit exercise in during your day? Then get fit at work! Consider biking or walking to work, if practical. If not, walk around your workplace before or after work, or during work breaks, for 20-30 minutes. Lunchtime walks with a friend are fun and a stress reliever. Use the stairs rather than elevator. Check out this link for more terrific ideas: ACE GETFIT: Time saving tips for on-the-job fitness
Try these tips from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease to prevent knee injury while you exercise:
- Avoid bending your knees past 90 degree when doing half knee bends or squats.
- Avoid twisting your knees by keeping your feet as flat as possible during stretching.
- When jumping, land with your knees bent.
Source: Handout on Health. Sports Injuries. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease.
It's true that exercise can help prevent the common cold by strengthening your immune system, but you should be cautious if you are considering an intense workout when you do fall sick. Some recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) are to:
- Exercise moderately when the cold symptoms are confined to your head,
- Stay in bed if illness spreads beyond your head - don’t “sweat out” your illness, and
- Resume your exercise program slowly as you recover.
Check out ACSM’s guide, Clearing the Air on Exercise and the Common Cold for more information.