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HPRC Fitness Arena: Physical Fitness
Keeping physically fit is an important part of a military career. Aboard the USS Kearsarge Marines and sailors merge creativity and enthusiasm to push their physical fitness to even higher peaks. The October 05, 2010 edition of Military Health System News has an article on how Marines and sailors aboard the USS Kearsarge find ways to supplement their physical training while at sea.
The Globe and Mail (Toronto) has an interesting piece on which activity is better for you - swimming or running? The conclusion, according to the article, is that swimming is good for muscles, joints and some (but not all) cardiovascular risk factors. But to get the full benefits from aerobic activity, include some land-based exercise in your routine at least once or twice a week.
The Off Duty section of the Air Force Times recently published an article that looks at the popularity high-intensity fitness programs and concerns about their safety.
In the military, teamwork is vital to operational success. Frequently, multiple service branches work together as teams during combat operations. Practicing teamwork skills and building strong teams, that are adaptive and flexible, are essential for mission success, safety and efficiency of troops, and reduction of operational stress. Click here to read more on the various team building techniques used by the U.S. Army to prevent operational stress.
You are more likely to seek health information online when your friends are also doing so. A recent study found that individuals with multiple friends who sign up for an online health forum were more likely to sign up for it themselves. Similarly, you’re also more likely to practice healthy behaviors when your friends do the same. To enhance your health, choose your friends wisely!
It has been known to trainers that alternating higher intensity and lower intensity training sessions is the most effective means for conditioning athletes.
As reported in the September 20, 2010 edition of the Tauton Daily Gazzette (Tauton, MA), recent research indicates that it is not necessary to train at high-effort levels every exercise session. In other words, a combination of higher intensity and lower intensity exercise is recommended for a sensible and successful fitness program. The full article can be accessed here.
Last week, Wired Magazine ran an article on high intensity fitness programs that are being studied and evaluated in a review of high-intensity fitness programs by the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD.
In response, Wired has published a follow up article that offers a view of CrossFit from a soldier's perspective.
One way to lengthen your life is to sleep! Recent evidence suggests that men who have difficulty falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or only sleep for short periods of time may be at a higher risk of dying. In the study, men who reported to have insomnia or had insufficient sleep were much more likely to die over a 14-year period. Reduce your risk of death from all causes by sleeping!
Failing a fitness test can get a Marine passed over for promotion, perhaps ending career hopes. According to this article from KVOA.com based in Tucson, AZ, there is growing pressure to hold marines to a higher standard for physical fitness and combat readiness. In response, the Marine Corps Semper Fit program is investing millions in new gyms with functional workout rooms, recreation programs, and nutrition classes.
Are PRTs still accurate assessments of physical fitness levels? The days of calisthenics and running several miles for exercise are gone. Comfort Zones and gyms on- or off-base are filled with exercise toys such as cable cross machines, Roman benches, kettlebells, and miles of cardiovascular equipment. Most military personnel are exercising with the latest technology, or at least with free weights. Shouldn’t PRTs utilize the most current knowledge of functional exercise and movement?
“Functional movement” is defined as real-world biomechanics of body movement. Sit-ups and push-ups are not functional; they show strength and/or flexibility, but not true overall fitness.
Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screening (FMS), however, assesses the quality of seven functional movements to determine a persons’ symmetry, grading each movement (21 being a perfect score). FMS might be a better assessment in terms of a person’s total fitness level. Most studies using FMS have evaluated the prediction of injury rates based on the level of symmetry (for example: Military Joe shows rotary stability in the left shoulder but not in the right – the asymmetry of his shoulders most likely predicts injury when climbing walls in theater).
An unpublished study by COL Francis O’Connor, MD on injury prediction in Marine Corps Officer candidates (MC) found that those who scored 14 or higher (out of 21) had a lower injury rate. A study on NFL players also had similar findings.
Should the military re-evaluate its PRTs in terms of functional movement or should it stay with its current program? Contact us here at the HPRC if you have thoughts to share.