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
True total force fitness and overall well-being are crucial to Warfighter readiness and success, and awareness of this is now spreading like wildfire. Admiral Mullen’s Total Force Fitness Initiatives center on the importance of mind, body, family, and environment for overall Warfighter resilience.
There are numerous programs within the military designed to support and enhance Warfighter resilience – some unit specific and some branch or joint-service specific. The HPRC is in the process of gathering information on these myriad programs and highlighting those that are clearly evidence-based, that highlight the importance of mind-body integration, and that teach Warfighter-relevant skills and strategies for performance optimization.
Last week we added a section in our Total Force Fitness domain on the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program. We describe the program, give step-by-step information about its components, and highlight where to go for more information and program participation.
To give you a brief overview, CSF is an integrated Total Force Fitness (TFF) resilience-building program developed by the Army in collaboration with researchers in positive psychology and resilience building. CSF is designed to give Warfighters, their families, and their communities the knowledge, skills, and behaviors to “thrive in their lives” and successfully adapt to life’s challenges. Consistent with some of the components of Total Force Fitness identified by the DoD, CSF has five basic sectors: physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and family.
CSF was initially developed for the Army community, but it has now been adapted for use by the Air Force, Navy, and Marines. In addition, CSF provides training tools specifically designed for family members. Most of the training materials require AKO/DKO access, but the main exception is the family member materials, which are available for immediate download (with registration).
We hope that this new area of our website will be useful, help foster resilience in all, and provide a one-stop shop for previewing some resilience programs ongoing within the military.
Tainted dietary supplements most often occur among products typically marketed for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding. They can have deceptive labeling as well as undeclared, harmful ingredients. The question is: How can consumers protect themselves from these products?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently taken some steps to help consumers look out for potentially harmful dietary supplement products. Consumers and healthcare professionals can receive notifications from the FDA by subscribing to the RSS feed. The Commissioner of Food and Drugs also sent a letter to the dietary supplement industry reminding them of their responsibility to prevent the sale of tainted products in the United States. The FDA has also made it easier to report to the FDA about tainted products.
Some of these tainted dietary supplement products contain active ingredients of FDA-approved drugs or other compounds that are not classified as dietary ingredients. These products can have serious side effects, including death. The FDA has identified roughly 300 tainted products that are not legal dietary supplements and are warning consumers about the serious side effects of these products. Consumers should be cautious of:
- Product ads that claim to “melt your fat away,” or claim that “diet and exercise [are] not required,” or products that use the words “guaranteed,” “scientific breakthrough,” or “totally safe.”
- Products that use numerous testimonials about “results seen” from using the product.
- Any product that is labeled or marketed in a foreign language. Consumers should not buy or consume these products.
- Products that are marketed as herbal alternatives to FDA-approved drugs.
- Products marketed and sold on the Internet.
There have been some recent voluntary recalls due to FDA investigations of dietary supplement products. Some of these have included weight-loss products that contained the prescription drug ingredient sibutramine. Sexual enhancement products have also been recalled for containing the undeclared drug ingredients sulfosildenafil and tadalafil. Other products marketed as supplements have been identified as containing various prescription drug ingredients.
It is important that consumers be aware that, under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, companies do not need FDA approval prior to marketing such products. Thus, generally speaking, the FDA does not approve dietary supplements.
Consumers need to be savvy when they make product purchases, and when in doubt, check with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine if you need a dietary supplement product and to help determine what could be a tainted product. If it looks too good to be true, chances are it is. For more information, read the “FDA’s Beware of Fraudulent ‘Dietary Supplements’.”
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
Have you ever been tempted to try the exercise equipment advertised on late-night infomercials—the products that promise to enhance various body parts or provide a great workout for a low, low price? Most of it isn’t necessary to get into the shape you want. Some of the most effective workouts can be done at home—with only your own body weight. It’s not that equipment is bad—correct use of weights and some machines can be very effective—but it isn’t necessary, nor is it an excuse to prevent you from getting in a good workout when equipment isn’t available.
There are some clear benefits to exercising at home without the use of equipment, including saving time and money that you would spend at a gym. Most importantly, exercising by using your body weight provides you with the ability to exercise anytime and anywhere—you aren’t restricted only to the times when you have access to the piece of equipment or device. Also, there are a variety of ways to go about a home-based program, ranging from workouts on DVD to a workout you create for yourself. Those already familiar with online workouts may know that YouTube has been afire with videos of extraordinarily fit people demonstrating their workouts done with minimal equipment in their homes, backyards, or local parks. Always proceed with caution—these videos are impressive and can be useful, but realize that they come with a risk of serious injury. Before you begin any home workout, consult your physician and/or an exercise professional to determine what is safe, and best for you.
We list some examples below of fitness moves that can be performed at home without equipment. These moves should be performed properly and at the right intensity level for them to be effective and safe. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) provides an Exercise Library that displays the proper form for many exercises.
Squats (Single Leg)
For a complete workout, visit ACE’s At Home (Without Equipment) Workout.
Reuters.com has an article that examines the advantages and disadvantages of treadmills versus elliptical exercise machines.
In the 10/18 In the Crosshairs, we linked to a story on from CNN.com that reported on military medical researchers that have developed a blood test that can detect if someone has suffered a concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury.
In response, Wired.com has an article in their Danger Room section that calls into question the research that has been done by the Army.
CNN.com is reporting that military medical researchers have developed a blood test that can detect if someone has suffered a concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a big concern for the military, particularly milder forms, because unlike TBI, milder injuries cannot be seen on X-rays, CT scans or MRIs. Having this test would be useful not only for the military but for civilians as well.
Rather than sitting during the day, stand when possible. During your next phone conversation, stand up. Standing burns more calories by engaging more muscles and prevents inactivation of fat burning enzymes. It uses more blood glucose which may prevent adult onset diabetes. According to this article, simply standing can improve your cholesterol and overall health – an amazingly simple strategy to improve fitness!
KENS Channel 5 in San Antonio, TX has posted an article on their website that reports that, according to the military, the number of prospective recruits are just too fat to enlist, which is making it difficult to fill their ranks.
The article cites a non-profit group called Mission Readiness, made up of retired senior military leaders, who feel there is a solution to the problem.
The group has a three-point approach that would solve the obesity problem for prospective recruits:
- Get the junk food and high-calorie beverages out of our schools.
- Increase funding for the school lunch program.
- Support the development, testing and deployment of proven public-health interventions.
Dietary data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES, 2005-2006) for children between ages two through 19 suggest that children may not be drinking enough water for optimal health. The study also found that children and adolescents may be getting as much as two-thirds of their total water intake with their main meals. Try replacing non-nutritious beverages like sodas with nutritious beverages (or better yet, plain water) at meal time. This could have a positive impact on the diet, weight, and health of your children.