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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.

HPRC Fitness Arena: Total Force Fitness

Event-day nutrition strategies to excel

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Get nutrition guidance for a successful endurance event or competition. Learn how to fuel before, during, and after an event for optimal performance.

Whether you’re training for a ruck, doing mission-specific training, or competing in a marathon, you should be confident you have done everything you possibly could to prepare for this day. Hopefully, you have followed good basic guidelines for eating well-balanced meals, and you’ve consumed enough carbohydrates and protein during training, as discussed in “Daily nutrition strategies for endurance.” This second article looks at event-day nutritional strategies and event-specific preparation and follow-up to give you a performance edge. Read more...

Military kids and mindfulness

Encouraging your kids to be mindful supports their mental health. Learn how to bring mindfulness into your family.

Children can boost their mental wellness by learning and practicing mindfulness. It helps them be more aware of their thoughts and feelings “in the moment” and enables them to better manage their emotions and reactions. When children and teens accept their emotions, they can avoid becoming overwhelmed and suppressing their feelings. Practicing mindfulness can help reduce anxiety, improve performance, and build resilience. Bringing mindfulness into your family can help create calm and peaceful times together. Read more...

Security clearances and mental health—Part 2: Q21 on SF86

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
Part 2 of HPRC’s security clearances and mental health series takes a closer look at the implications of responses to question 21 on your SF86 security clearance application.

This is the second and final article in HPRC’s series about misunderstandings often connected to the relationship between mental health and security clearances. Keep in mind that the trustworthiness, dependability, reliability, and good judgment of an individual matter more than the simple act of seeking care for mental health issues.

Another common myth is that you may not be granted clearance by answering affirmatively to question 21 on the SF86. In fact, answering, “yes” to question 21 on the SF86 will not automatically disqualify you from gaining or retaining an active clearance. Read more...

Security clearances and mental health—Part 1: Judgment matters

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
In this two-part series, HPRC unpacks myths about the impact of mental health care on security clearances. Learn how good judgment and your response on question 21 on the SF86 are what really matters when it comes to clearance status.

One of the biggest reasons Warfighters hesitate to seek professional mental health care is the commonly held misunderstanding that getting such assistance could impact their security clearances. Here are some basics: The existence of a psychological diagnosis or disorder will not automatically disqualify you from getting or retaining a security clearance. Almost no one has lost a clearance for having a behavioral health diagnosis. Of those who have lost clearances, only 0.04% did so for solely psychological reasons. What’s more, the simple act of meeting with a mental health professional or obtaining mental health care will not automatically result in a loss of clearance. The issue of mental health and security clearance is complex, so it’s important to clear up some common misconceptions about how mental health can impact security clearance status.

HPRC provides a series of articles about mental health and security clearances, beginning with this one on how your good judgment favorably affects your clearance status. Read more...

Save more, spend less, and reduce stress

Managing your family’s finances means balancing your spending and saving habits. Get ahead of the stress that financial strain can bring with these money management tips.

“Smart” spending and saving habits might help reduce your stress. Money issues tend to be a major source of stress for many Americans, and military families are no exception. The 2016 Blue Star Families survey results showed that financial issues are a top concern for service members and their families.

Poor money-management skills and lack of financial resources can lead to stress that spills over into your relationships, wearing you down. The good news is “smart” spending and saving can help you cope with stress and feel in control during troublesome times. Good saving habits, in particular, can help reduce financial unpredictability, which also could lower your stress. Read more...

The scoop on probiotic and prebiotic foods

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Learn how foods with probiotics and prebiotics might boost your digestive health.

Eating foods with probiotics and prebiotics might aid your digestion, so try to include them in your healthy-eating plan. Probiotics are live microorganisms (such as bacteria) similar to the healthy bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Prebiotics are natural, non-digestible food ingredients that promote the growth of “good” bacteria in your GI tract. Eating foods with prebiotics might improve your digestive health and enhance calcium absorption too.

Some research shows two strains—Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium—seem to offer the greatest benefits. Both can be found in probiotic foods such as kefir, buttermilk, sauerkraut, olives, pickles, miso (a soybean product), kimchi, and some yogurts and cheeses. Eating these foods might help prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotics and infections. They also might provide relief from symptoms associated with constipation, colds, allergies, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Prebiotic foods include bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, and whole grains. Top your yogurt with bananas or add asparagus to your miso soup to boost the mutual benefits of prebiotics and probiotics.

Probiotics can be found in certain dietary supplements and some skin creams too. However, the jury’s still out on whether they’re safe for long-term use, especially for people who have been diagnosed with weakened immune systems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also hasn’t approved any health claims for probiotics, so check with your healthcare provider about possible risks and side effects.

The greatest benefits from eating foods with probiotics and prebiotics occur when they’re part of a diet that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat sources of dairy and protein. For more information about probiotics, visit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health's web page.

Posted 01 May 2017

How to breathe during exercise

Paying attention to how you breathe during exercise might boost your performance.

You probably don’t put a lot of thought in your breathing during exercise, except maybe during extra-hard workouts when you’re breathing hard. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to do it, but some methods are more efficient and can give you an extra boost in performance. During light-to-moderate exercise, people tend to inhale through their noses and exhale through their mouths. Breathing through your nose helps minimize the number of allergens that get into your airway, warm the air before it gets to your lungs (which can be helpful in cold temperatures), and increase the concentration of oxygen in your blood. However, as exercise intensity increases, most people switch to breathing through their mouths because they can inhale more air per breath with less resistance.

Running experts suggest practicing diaphragmatic breathing (“belly breathing”) rather than shallower chest breathing (where you raise your chest and shoulders when you inhale). With diaphragmatic breathing, your diaphragm (an important muscle in the breathing process) is pushed downward when you inhale, creating space in your chest cavity. You should feel your belly expand as you inhale. It promotes greater expansion of your rib cage and lungs, giving you a fuller, deeper breath. It takes a little practice to learn how to breathe like this while you’re running, but if you lie on your back and breathe, practice yoga, or even play a wind instrument, you’ll know what it feels and looks like.

Finally, remember not to slouch when you run. Lift your torso and chest and lean forward slightly. Your running form also can affect how you breathe. Focusing on your breath can help you be mindful and aware of the activity or workout you’re doing as well.

Myths and facts about mental toughness

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
Learn some common myths about mental toughness, and then get the facts to help understand what it’s all about.

Mental toughness is often described as a psychological edge that helps people endure challenges, overcome adversity, and achieve more success. There are many common myths about mental toughness that can influence your beliefs about where it comes from and your willingness to work at getting more of it. Big businesses, elite athletes, and now military leaders are interested in mental toughness because it helps you overcome challenges, achieve optimal performance, and maintain readiness. Check out these 7 common myths and facts about mental toughness. Read more...

Daily nutrition strategies for endurance

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Get endurance-athlete nutrition tips to feel more energized and recovered daily; ways to adjust your nutrition for easy verse hard training days.

Many people only think about performance nutrition in terms of what to eat just before or after a competition. However, the effect of nutrition on your training and performance starts long before. Performance nutrition really begins during training, when you consistently fuel your body with the proper amounts and kinds of calories and nutrients. The nutrition information in this article is meant to provide a solid foundation to help you train for sporting events, military operations, training events, or rucks lasting longer than 60 minutes. Read more...

Kids benefit from summer camp

Find out how kids have fun, learn, and grow at summer camp.

Children benefit from summer camp experiences that enable them to gain skills, build confidence, and learn responsibility. Summer is typically a time for kids to unwind from the rigid schedule the school year can bring. While parents often want their children’s summer to be relaxing, they want it to be educational as well. Summer camp offers both experiences.

At camp, your children can meet new kids and form friendships. This can build their competence in social situations, as they gain experience getting to know new people, asking questions, and sharing their own thoughts and ideas.

Camps can expose children to situations where they can practice leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving skills too. Whether it’s working together to build a fire or establishing camaraderie on a sports team, children can spend the bulk of their days interacting with peers and exercising decision-making skills. Camps also can help your kids explore what it feels like to take on leadership roles in a group.

The learning component of camps can lead to skill attainment. When they face new adventures and implement newly learned skills, kids’ self-esteem grows. Their confidence blooms when they work through the successes and failures of new experiences as well.

Your children’s time at summer camp also can help them learn responsibility and independence, especially if it’s a sleep-away camp. When kids have to take care of their own belongings and share team responsibilities, they grow as individuals. They also learn about cooperation and how to be self-sufficient.

Kids can learn to appreciate nature through their experiences in summer camp too. Children who spend time in nature develop a deeper sense of gratitude for the outdoors.

With summer around the corner, plan your kids’ summer camp experiences now. The 4-H Military Partnership offers clubs and summer camps for military kids. And check out your local military installation's programs and activities: Make sure to select Youth Program/Centers from the drop-down menu.

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