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Work out with a friend

HPRC Fitness Arena:
A little friendly competition with a friend benefits you both.

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.

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Exercise has mental benefits.

HPRC Fitness Arena:
Exercise works wonders!

It not only helps you maintain a healthy weight and look better, but it also improves your mood and energy level while decreasing anxiety.  As little as a 10 minute walk will provide benefits (APA article). For more detailed information and more tips visit the American Psychological Association (APA).

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Staying fit on a budget

HPRC Fitness Arena:
There are plenty of low-cost alternatives to expensive gyms that can help you lose weight and build muscle without breaking your budget. Read on for a few examples.

Count your steps! Get a pedometer and see if you close you can get to 10,000 steps each day.

Jump rope – it not only gets your body moving but it's also a great family activity to share.

Start a fitness group. Having a buddy and working out together is a lot of fun. You can create your own fitness groups and include fun activities such as walking, hiking, running, using exercise DVDs, and playing at the park with children.

Join a local adult recreational sports league and play sports like soccer, basketball, and softball, and make new friends, to boot.

Simple exercises like push-ups, dips, crunches, and stretches can be done in a few minutes. Set aside time every day to be active.

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Strengthen your core with a few core moves

HPRC Fitness Arena:
Improve your performance with core moves.

A strong core can enhance balance and stability and may even improve your performance. For more reasons to strengthen your core,  here are seven from the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, visit the Mayo Clinic’s slideshow for core strengthening exercises.

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Warming-up provides much needed benefits

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You may be anxious to get your workout started, but take the time to warm up and you'll avoid injury and perform better. Click here for more information on why you should stretch. To review warm-up and stretching techniques, see Chapters 4 & 7 in the Navy Seal Fitness Guide.

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Protect your skin from the sun

HPRC Fitness Arena:
With the hot sun of summer, make sure your skin is protected when exercising outdoors.

With the hot sun of summer, make sure your skin is protected when exercising outdoors. This isn't just a cosmetic issue, but a health issue, as well. Apply enough sunblock of the correct type for the exercise you're performing outdoors. Visit Environment, Health, and Safety Online for general sun safety tips.

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Preventing heat-related illness

HPRC Fitness Arena:
What to drink when you're working out in hot environments.

When performing physical activities in the heat, avoid drinking liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar since these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they may cause stomach cramps.

Click here for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's article on Emergency Preparedness and Response.

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Supplements alone will not reduce your disease risk

HPRC Fitness Arena:
There's no replacement for a healthy lifestyle–a sound diet and regular physical activity.

Remember, taking dietary supplements alone will not reduce your disease risk. You must engage in complementary behaviors such as healthy eating and regular physical activity. Visit the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" publication for more information.

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After heatstroke, when is it safe to exercise?

HPRC Fitness Arena:
Heatstroke is a potentially deadly consequence of exercising. "This is a very controversial area, even more so than concussions," said Dr. Francis G. O'Connor, president of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine. He moderated a debate on the topic at a recent meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.



From the June 15, 2010 edition of the New York Times.

Heatstroke is a potentially deadly consequence of exercising. "This is a very controversial area, even more so than concussions," said Dr. Francis G. O'Connor, president of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine. He moderated a debate on the topic at a recent meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.

See the full text of this article.

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The barefoot running question

The book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall has been a primary catalyst for the rapid expansion of the population of “barefoot runners” over the past year.

The book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall has been a primary catalyst for the rapid expansion of the population of “barefoot runners” over the past year.  Most barefoot running advocates are in reality minimalist runners – they wear as little on their feet as possible.  In most cases they wear just enough to provide a little cushion on concrete or other hard surfaces or to provide a thin layer of protection from glass or other sharp objects. Minimalist footwear is referred to as “barefoot technology,” which, at some level, seems to be an oxymoron.  The cynical side of me says the term was coined by those expecting to make money off a new trend.

It is important to first note that there is no evidence-based information to support either side of the debate on the efficacy of being either shod or unshod.  The most interesting research pointing toward the possible advantages of the minimalist approach is outlined by a Harvard professor and his colleagues in a January 2010 edition of the journal “Nature.” A counter to the assertion that barefoot running is beneficial can be found on a website titled “Barefoot Running is Bad.” The pro barefoot running community points to initial research that indicates there is more force absorbed by the body by a runner wearing shoes than by barefoot runners.  The greatest difference is that barefoot runners have a forefoot strike, while runners wearing modern running shoes tend to have a heel strike. The opposition community points to anecdotal information that there has been a rapid rise in the incidence of stress fractures in the feet of barefoot or minimalist runners.

For me, the jury is still out.  I find the concept that we should allow our feet to function as designed intriguing. My advice to those in the military interested in transitioning to a barefoot regimen is to first consult their local provider for advice. In addition, anyone starting a barefoot running program should increase the barefoot component of their normal workout routine gradually. A good rule of thumb is to increase the barefoot part of the program by no more than 10 percent each week.  Barefoot adherents should also listen to their bodies and stop any activity that leads to joint or soft tissue pain.

My closing concern: warriors, regardless of where they are assigned, will spend a considerable amount of time in some sort of boot technology while training or deployed.  As the sports medicine community debates the value of being barefoot in contrast to lacing up the latest Nike technology, we need to determine if there is any advantage for warriors adopting a partial or full barefoot workout program.  This research should include an assessment of the positive or negative effects of frequently transitioning between minimalist footwear and boots.  As more warriors get the minimalist footwear bug, it is important that we provide them the best evidence-based information that supports or argues against the practice.

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