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: Physical Fitness
One way to lengthen your life is to sleep! Recent evidence suggests that men who have difficulty falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or only sleep for short periods of time may be at a higher risk of dying. In the study, men who reported to have insomnia or had insufficient sleep were much more likely to die over a 14-year period. Reduce your risk of death from all causes by sleeping!
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.
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An unpublished study by COL Francis O’Connor, MD on injury prediction in Marine Corps Officer candidates (MC) found that those who scored 14 or higher (out of 21) had a lower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.
The Simple 7™ is an easy way to figure out how to achieve good health. This online resource, provided by the American Heart Association, lists seven steps that are crucial to our health. We list their steps for you below:
- Don’t smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Engage in physical activity.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Manage your blood pressure.
- Take charge of your cholesterol.
- Keep your blood glucose at healthy levels.
With Life’s Simple 7™, you'll find out where you stand, how you're doing, and also get you your own personal heart score and health plan.
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!
A few minutes a day of stair climbing can improve your cardiovascular health, a recent study finds. A study of sedentary college-aged women who walked 199 stair steps a day the first week, and who worked up to six ascents, or climbs, a day by the sixth week, were significantly more fit (heart rate, oxygen uptake, blood lactate levels and increased HDL) by the end than in the beginning.
In a study published this year in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the research suggests that most runners make two key mistakes: They try to run too fast uphill and don’t run fast enough downhill. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) has an article that asks the questions on the best way to run hills. Access the article here.
In 2008, the Journal of Medical Internet Research published an article titled Medicine 2.0: Social Networking,Collaboration, Participation, Apomediation, and Openness, in which the term “Web 2.0” is used. Web 2.0 refers to web applications that support collaboration and interactive information sharing online, a large part of which are the social media applications for blogging, wikis, and video streaming. The Journal article talks about the idea of a “Medicine 2.0” for web-based health and medical information, geared towards healthcare consumers, caregivers, patients, health professionals, and researchers.
Interestingly, all of this has given rise to a “Fitness 2.0” trend, allowing users to go beyond just the factual, static health information that exists and find more interactive information. It turns out that the internet can be a great resource for boosting one’s fitness level! YouTube, for example, has thousands of clips on exercise – proper techniques, expert advice – everything from the proper dead-lift technique to nutrition tips for weight loss.
These types of social media can also track fitness levels and goals of users by allowing them to enter in numbers and monitor their progress. Applications like Virtual Weight Loss, health networks like FitDay, and iPhone apps like “My Weight Loss Coach” are great ways to accomplish this. For an even simpler tracking method, use Twitter updates with a hash tag (i.e. #weightloss and #twit2fit) – a great way to get support while keeping a daily or weekly report of progress.
Another area where social media provides a bridge for exchanging health/medical information are online support/social communities. The sharing of experiences and struggles can help when things get tough or when motivation lags. With this level of personal interaction, users don't have to get healthy their own. Sites like Google Groups or DailyBurn, are easy ways to compare and discuss results with a community. When researching a health-related topic, however, keep in mind that blogs, videos, and social networks should not be primary sources of information. Look up multiple sources – no one source of information is ever perfect, so reduce the risk of bad information.
Social media is about creating connections and information, and healthy living is about consistency and knowledge. Together, they can be a great match. Social media can bring a lot of useful information and support to people looking to improve their health or fitness levels, and provides many innovative ways to stay motivated and well-informed.
According to the article, the conclusions of the study suggest that some damage is likely to occur to the heart muscle of competitors, while 12 percent of the study group showed signs of significant cardiac damage.
The full article is here: Ultra-Endurance Running May Not Be Good For The Heart
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