Filed under: Soldier fitness
Performing physical activity at moderate (4,000-7,870 ft or 1,200 to 4,000 m) and high (7,870-13,125 ft or 2,400 to 4,000 m) altitude can be challenging. At high altitude, oxygen pressure is lower which results in less oxygen in the blood and muscle tissues. As altitude increases, there is a decrease in air temperature (about 20 F for every 500 ft or 152.4 m), less moisture so the air is drier, and increased solar radiation. Use sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and watch out for the signs of acute mountain sickness: headache, nausea, shortness of breath, impaired cognition and balance.
The U.S. Army has retooled its yearly physical fitness test with more practical exercises geared to finding out if soldiers are in fighting shape. Along with other changes to the current test, troops will be required to run an obstacle course while dressed in full combat armor and dragging 180 pounds‹the equivalent of a human body.
The new Army Physical and Combat Readiness Test is being introduced at eight installations, and if all goes well, will be rolled out Army-wide on October 1st.
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Photo: Department of Defense
Navy Times has an article that examines what the definition of a “military push-up” means to a soldier, sailor, airman and Marine.
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According to an article from Army.mil, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) is shaping changes in Army boot camp; changes leaders say that are improving Soldiers’ preparedness for combat once they reach their units.
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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.
Last week, Wired Magazine ran an article on high intensity fitness programs that are being studied and evaluated in a review of high-intensity fitness programs by the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD.
In response, Wired has published a follow up article that offers a view of CrossFit from a soldier's perspective.
Failing a fitness test can get a Marine passed over for promotion, perhaps ending career hopes. According to this article from KVOA.com based in Tucson, AZ, there is growing pressure to hold marines to a higher standard for physical fitness and combat readiness. In response, the Marine Corps Semper Fit program is investing millions in new gyms with functional workout rooms, recreation programs, and nutrition classes.
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.
By G. A. Volb | Army News Service
May 24, 2010
As Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. stresses the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program, the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy finds itself at the tip of the spear in offering health and fitness insight to its enlisted members.
Senior Army leadership not only wants a broadly-skilled NCO treading the battlefields of tomorrow, but one that is both physically and spiritually fit. The former is a product of fitness regimens designed to enhance Soldier's ability to withstand the stresses and challenges of today's real - world operations tempo – and diet, not surprisingly, is a major piece to the puzzle.
Dietician Mrs. Jennifer Eiland, left, discusses possible changes Master Sgt. Anthony Jones may want to consider regarding his diet to help better his overall fitness. Jones, a Philadelphia, Pa., native lost nine pounds in just over a month following his initial meetings with Eiland. "I just used a few common sense diet and lifestyle changes that Jennifer suggested," the 44-year-old Jones said. (Photo Credit: G.A. Volb)"The food choices you make and when you eat have a direct impact on your energy level, ability to concentrate, overall feeling of well-being and gut function," said Jennifer Eiland, a dietician and part of the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute's staff at their USASMA annex. "It also affects your ability to complete an exercise session."
Casey, it should be noted, is so big on Soldier fitness that he's made the CSF Program, established in 2009, a priority as the Army tries to focus on the five dimensions of strength: Physical, Emotional, Social, Spiritual and Family.
The general's intent is to increase the strength, resilience and enhance performance of all Soldiers, family members, and Department of the Army civilians. None of it is possible if the old quip, "You are what you eat" makes sense and everyone is shoveling junk food down their necks.
"Diet is extremely important to realizing health and fitness goals," said the 25-year dietitian from Roy, Utah. "It influences almost three-quarters of the results of our health assessments. It can also influence a person's aerobic capacity; heavier participants typically have lower V02 or lung efficiency as a result. Mood and alertness are also affected by diet."
She stressed that eating a diet full of sugar, salt and fat lowers one's energy level and ability to concentrate, which in turn, can negatively affect school work and a Soldier's performance.
"It affects chronic disease risk on a number of levels as well," she offered. "Obesity increases the odds of contracting cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Excessive sodium intake can increase blood pressure in over two-thirds of the population and risk of stroke and heart attacks according to the latest from the American Heart Association and Centers for Disease Control."
In a recent letter to the troops, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston emphasized the need for Soldiers to work on all five areas stressed by the CSF Program; most of which can be affected by diet.
"We want CSF activities to become a part of our daily lives, just as we do physical training every day to build and strengthen the physical dimensions of CSF," said Preston in his letter. "We want the members of our team to do more than just cope with adversity; we want them to grow from their life experiences."
"Reflecting on the past eight years of war and our deployment experience in Afghanistan and Iraq, we can now begin to understand the individual health and resilience problems associated with our deployment tempo," he said.
An unhealthy Soldier is less effective," said Eiland. "A sergeant major's overall health, including how he or she eats, influences their ability as leaders ... and the influence they have on the health choices of their young Soldiers."
Eiland pointed out that a prominent group of retired military leaders want junk food taken out of America's schools because the obesity epidemic, especially in young people, is limiting the number of people who can be recruited into the military, making obesity a national security issue.
On a positive note, she added that many Soldiers have a sincere interest in improving their eating habits.
"A good majority tend to eat more meat and fewer fruits and vegetables than is considered optimal for good health," said Eiland. "Including more whole grains and less processed foods is also an area I frequently discuss with Soldiers. Sugary beverages seem to be a favorite as is eating fast food and microwave meals given their busy schedules. However, if dietary changes are presented in a practical and doable way to them, most will make changes."
The major challenges, according to the dietitian, are getting organized and planning ahead.
"Enlisting uncooperative family members, finding time to cook their own meals and changing an old mindset are also challenges," she said.