Filed under: Fitness
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An unpublished study by COL Francis O’Connor, MD on injury prediction in Marine Corps Officer candidates (MC) found that those who scored 14 or higher (out of 21) had a lower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.
Hanging out with friends may include habits that oppose your health goals. Instead of skipping out on quality time with them, invite them to participate in an activity like a group cycling class that will get everyone moving. A healthy social life contributes to good health, so get the group moving!
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.
Recent research challenges the notion that flat-footed runners need motion-control shoes while high-arched runners need well-cushioned ones. In a recent military study, assigning shoes based on the shape of the arch of one’s foot did little to prevent juries. Previous studies by scientists in Canada and Australia found similar results. When you go to the footwear store on your next visit, listen to what your feet tell you. Choose a pair that fits and feels right!
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.
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).
Toning shoes are exercise shoes that have a uniquely shaped rocker type sole and extra cushioning to alter the wearer’s normal walking gait. Manufacturers of toning shoes claim that wearers can tighten and shape their lower-body muscles just by walking in the shoes. They are the latest trend in fitness footwear, but is all the buzz and manufacturer’s claims too good to be true? Proponents of toning shoes cite that “instability of the shoes” forces the user to activate muscles that otherwise would not be used with regular exercise shoes. Additionally, advocates for the shoes claim that by wearing toning shoes, you can change your posture and take pressure off aching, overused joints. However, a growing share of medical skeptics say no independent studies have shown benefits from these types of shoes over traditional pairs.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE), in conjunction with researchers from the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse, released results of a study comparing the effects of wearing toning to traditional running shoes. Seems the claims may not be true.
Swimming is a great way to stay cool this summer and get a great workout. Try variations with strokes and swimming equipment like kickboards and fins. For more swimming tips to improve your fitness, visit Medicinenet.com.