Filed under: Exercise
The New York Times August 31 edition presents a look at the Army’s new physical-training program to deal with recruits who reach basic training having less strength and endurance than those in the past. According to a Lt. Gen. who oversees basic training for the Army, “What we were finding was that the soldiers we’re getting in today’s Army are not in as good shape as they used to be”. The cause of this decline, according to the article is a "legacy of junk food and video games, compounded by a reduction in gym classes in many high schools".
The article also cites the percentage of male recruits who failed the most basic fitness test at one training center rose to more than one in five in 2006, up from just 4 percent in 2000. Additionally, the article notes that the percentages were higher for women.
The new fitness regime tries to solve the problems of unfit soldiers by incorporating more stretching, more exercises for the abdomen and lower back, instead of the traditional sit ups, and more agility and balance training.
The full article is here: Making Soldiers Fit to Fight, Without the Situps
Research from the Harvard School of Public Health showed many years ago that individuals who exercise regularly die less from all causes. Although vigorous exercise, like running, produces greater gains, all that’s needed for good health is regular exercise. Regular physical activity has a positive effect on all of your body systems – it improves your mood and decreases anxiety, improves cognitive function, makes you stronger, and reduces your risk for many diseases like stroke, cardiovascular disease, many types of cancer, and adult onset diabetes. Even so, public health data from the Centers for Disease Control still shows that obesity and physical inactivity among adults in our country is high.
We at the Human Performance Resource Center are not only concerned with the total fitness of our Warfighters, but of all Americans. And like in many offices across the country, we work at desks, and fitness is something we have to carve out time for. But still, we do, as one of our staff members reports.
A few weeks ago, I went running with my super-tough Airborne Army son, a jumpmaster and SSG who’s been deployed many months over the last four years. When we last ran several years ago prior to his initial boot camp experience, I could outdistance him. Fortunately, that didn’t last long – six years and many runs later, this is no longer the case. The stories abound, and are hilarious. Like when he returned from his first 15-month deployment to Iraq: I had been running a lot and wanted to impress him with what good shape I was in. We hadn’t even made it out of my neighborhood, or hit the hills yet, and I was sucking wind. At that point he looked over and said, “Hey, Ma…we walkin’ or runnin’ today?” Fast forward to our five-mile run a few weeks ago in the midday July heat. I straggled back, having taken only a couple of one-minute walk breaks to catch my breath. Of course, he beat me back, and his greeting was, “Ma, you can do better than that!” But I know that underneath the teasing, he’s proud that his 50-year old mother is out that running with him, eating his dust. My response is, “Why aren’t there more mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, sons, and daughters out here running with their Warfighter?”
So I challenge you: if we expect our Warfighters to be in optimal condition because their role, protecting our country, demands it – don’t we also have a responsibility to ourselves, our loved ones, and our country, to improve our health and reduce our healthcare costs? It doesn’t matter what you do to stay fit, only that you do something. Walk the dog, play outside with the kids, join an adult sports league, or go for a run – the possibilities are endless.
An American Cancer Society study found that individuals who sit more during their leisure hours and are less active, died sooner than those who sat less and were more active. According to researchers, "sit more, die more." If you are a couch potato, stand up and walk around! Get out and walk the dog, plant some flowers, or play ball with the kids… your own or the neighbor's!
The number of hours a person spends pumping iron may make it easier to get back into shape and could also stave off weakness and decline of muscle function in old age. That's according to findings recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Kristian Gundersen , one of the researchers of this study explains that muscles actually have a memory of their former strength — and that memory may last indefinitely. The article can be accessed here.
If you sweat a lot during exercise, be sure to drink lots of fluids – but do not exceed 1.5 L/hour. Sip frequently rather than gulp; drinking small amounts of fluids at a time are more effective than drinking large amounts occasionally. Also, start drinking before you become thirsty. Click here for more information.
The August 16 edition of the New York Times has an interesting piece on how athletes try to follow their passion for sport while at the same time coping with the frustration of repeated injuries.
Not seeing the results you used to from your workout? Your body may have adapted to it. The American Council on Exercise suggests that you need to shake things up and surprise your body a bit. Change your cardio and weight workout periodically so that you continue to see results. Click here for more information how to "periodize" your workout.
Monitoring your heart rate during exercise is an excellent way to optimize your training and improve your performance. Review this article by Medicinenet on how to make sure you are in the best training zone for your goals.
To ensure that your running shoes fit properly, take care to shop at the end of the day when feet are largest, and take your running socks with you! Review these tips from MedicineNet for more suggestions to buy the best shoe for you.
Working out with a friend can ramp up performance and help you reach your fitness goals by helping you stick to your regimen and providing a source of friendly competition. Taking a friend along for a run or other workout will help you both. Click here for more information.