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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.

Your child and the HPV vaccine

Are you considering the HPV vaccine for your child? Learn how it helps prevent cervical cancer and other illnesses.

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can effectively prevent some sexually-transmitted infections that cause genital warts and certain cancers in men and women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine HPV vaccinations for kids ages 11–12, but those as young as 9 also can be vaccinated. The vaccine is most effective for those who receive the full 3-dose series.

HPV, the most common sexually-transmitted infection in the U.S., can develop into certain forms of cancer. It’s estimated there are 79 million HPV-infected individuals and another 14 million new HPV infections annually. In most cases, the symptom-free virus goes away on its own. However, for unknown reasons, HPV infection can persist, causing cervical cancer and other vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers. It’s also linked to cancers of the tonsils and tongue.

In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine that protects against the 4 most harmful strains of HPV. Studies show the HPV vaccine works. It prevents genital warts, some precancers, and cervical and other cancers associated with these harmful strains. Mandatory HPV-cancer prevention vaccination programs have resulted in lower rates of HPV-related diseases and cancers in other countries too. 

While many teens and adults are open to their health care providers’ recommendations for getting vaccinated, low immunization rates still exist. As more kids and adults get vaccinated, the rate of HPV-related cancers is expected to drop. Since the HPV vaccine is relatively new, it’s also recommended that females (ages 13–26) and males (ages 13–21) who haven’t been previously vaccinated “catch up” and get protected.

Since TriCare coverage includes most types of the HPV vaccine, contact your kids’ health care provider (or your own, if you’re considering getting vaccinated) to discuss options. For more information, read the CDC’s recommendations for vaccinating your teen or pre-teen. And visit the National Cancer Institute’s HPV Vaccines page.

Best time to exercise

Is there an ideal time of day for exercise?

The best time of day to exercise is the time when you can maintain a consistent exercise routine—not necessarily the same time for everyone. You also might experience better training adaptations when you exercise consistently at a regular time. For example, if you work out at noon every day, your body will adapt to perform at its best at noon.

Above all, exercise should be enjoyable. After all, if you don’t enjoy it, you’re less likely to keep up with it. So here are a few things to keep in mind about making exercise fit into your schedule.

Morning. It might be easiest to maintain a consistent exercise regimen by starting your day with a workout. Other things that come up during the day can affect your plans to work out later in the day, and motivation often fades as the day progresses. However, since your body and muscle temperatures are lower in the morning, it’s especially important in the morning to warm up properly before exercise.

Afternoon. Optimal adaptations to weight training seem to occur in late afternoon. Levels of hormones such as testosterone (important for muscle growth in men and women) and cortisol (important for regulating metabolism and controlling blood pressure) seem to be at optimal ratio later in the day. For some people—because hormone levels vary from person to person—lifting later also might be more beneficial because their testosterone can respond better to resistance exercises. 

Evening. The biggest caveat about exercising in the evening is how it will affect your sleep. Everyone is a little different. Some people can exercise right before bed and have no trouble sleeping. For others, it can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. There are lots of factors that can affect your sleep. Experiment to see what works for you.

Remember that other factors such as your work schedule, fitness goals, current diet, and sleep habits also affect your workout routine and physical performance. But whether at the end of the day (or in the morning or afternoon), a consistent exercise routine is the best routine.

Is procrastinating worth the wait?

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
Do you tend to procrastinate? Learn why you do it and how to stop it—today!

If you’re aware that you tend to procrastinate, you probably already know it’s a good idea to take care of tasks right away rather than wait, but somehow you keep “putting things off.” Still, procrastinating is attractive for many reasons.

  • You can’t find the “right place” to start. If so, start anywhere because somewhere is better than nowhere.
  • Perfectionism is holding you back. This is because you’re waiting to no longer feel anxious about the outcome.
  • Sustained effort can be hard! Remember: Waiting can make things even harder.
  • It’s difficult to get started unless you feel pressured to finish on time. But there are other ways to get “amped up” enough to start performing.
  • You think you’ll have more time “later.” But an “ideal time” seldom arrives. If you play these mind games with yourself, check out the mind-body ABCs.
  • You feel overwhelmed by your specific task. Can you look at this “threat” as more of a “challenge” instead? Doing so can help you feel excited rather than anxious.

Does procrastinating help—or hurt—your efforts to get things done? Ignoring problems typically makes things worse. So, step up and tackle your to-do list. Use some of the tips laid out here, and consider the obstacles to engaging a new approach. Then develop action plans to overcome those obstacles. It’s helpful to use all of these strategies, but remember that even using some strategies can be useful too. 

NO supplements or not??

Nitric oxide supplements are popular pre-workout supplements, but do they deliver on their promises to boost performance?

“Explosive workouts.” “Extreme pumps.” “Enhanced endurance.” These are just some of the marketing claims used to promote nitric oxide (NO) supplements. Interestingly though, NO supplements don’t actually contain any nitric oxide, which is a gas. Instead, these types of supplements usually contain amino acids plus various other ingredients. So will these supplements fulfill their promises of improving your performance or are they just “full of hot air”? Read the Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) FAQ on nitric oxide supplements to find out.

Paralympic Military Program

Athletes are gearing up for the Rio Paralympics in September. Feeling inspired? Learn how the Paralympic Military Program is one gateway to Paralympic sport opportunities.

Adaptive sport programs for wounded, injured, and ill service members are an important part of the rehabilitation process. And the Paralympic Military Program provides Paralympic sport opportunities—including camps, clinics, and competitions—to over 2,000 athletes each year. The program also promotes mentorship, teamwork, and fellowship for its athletes, especially those starting their roads to recovery. The results are impressive too: 5 military athletes won medals at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia!

The Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also offer many adaptive sport programs and clinics throughout the country. Whether you’re looking for a new challenge or going for the Gold, the first step is getting out there and being active!

Check out the Paralympic Military Program page to learn more about adaptive sport opportunities in your community. And be sure to cheer on service members, veterans, and other Paralympians at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, beginning September 7.

Go team USA!

Expired sunscreen: Is it safe?

HPRC Fitness Arena: Environment, Total Force Fitness
Check the expiration date on your bottle of sunscreen before heading outdoors for summer fun.

Take note: Your sunscreen—important for protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays—has an expiration date! Just as you wouldn’t expect to feel well after eating expired food, don’t rely on expired sunscreen to protect you from the sun.

Sunscreen can be effective for up to 3 years. After that, its active ingredients start to deteriorate, leaving you vulnerable to sunburn and sun damage. Ideally, you should use sunscreen often enough that your bottle doesn’t last through the summer. If that’s not the case, check the bottle you’re currently using. If it’s old, throw it out.

If you buy sunscreen with the expiration printed only on the box or wrapper, use a permanent marker to write the date somewhere on the bottle. And store it in a cool, dry place. Practice safe sun this summer to keep your family healthy and happy!

Sex, sexuality, and intimacy resources

HPRC has a new section about sex, sexuality, and intimacy. Read up on articles, FAQs, and other resources to help maintain intimacy in your relationship.

Sex and other intimate behaviors are natural parts of life and important to maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner. Learn about the health benefits of sex and how to build intimacy—in and out of the bedroom—and much more in HPRC’s new Sex, Sexuality & Intimacy section. And find answers to frequently asked questions about common sexual problems, how to spice up your sex life, and other sex and intimacy issues affecting service members. You’ll find links to other helpful resources about sexual health and intimacy too.

Be sure to check out the Sex, Sexuality & Intimacy section. And if you have other questions or suggestions about content, contact us using our Ask the Expert feature.

Healthy twists on frozen treats

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Fruit, Nutrition, Summer
Does the thought of a frozen treat make you feel like a kid again? Start a new warm-weather tradition and make these easy treats with your friends and family!

Service members have enjoyed frozen treats at least since the Army and Navy boosted morale by serving ice cream sandwiches and sundaes to troops during World War II. However, these frozen sweets often contain excess calories and sugar, which can add to your daily calories. The good news is you can whip up healthy frozen treats at home.

The following tried-and-true favorites will delight your “inner child” and still fit nicely in a healthy meal pattern. And they include fruits and dairy—with additional calcium, potassium, fiber, protein, and other nutrients—possibly MIA from your diet. They also can be made for pennies, which is refreshing for your wallet!

  • Pudding pops. Prepare your favorite pudding recipe or powdered mix with skim milk. Add chopped peaches or berries. Freeze in molds or 4-oz paper cups for one hour. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze 2 more hours.
  • Frozen yogurt sundae. Scoop ½ cup frozen yogurt into a dish. Add one chopped banana and a handful of nuts.
  • Banana split. Lay banana halves in a dish. Add watermelon chunks and berries. Top with ½ cup frozen yogurt (any flavor) and 1 Tbsp of crunchy granola.
  • Banana pops. Insert a popsicle stick into a peeled, ripe banana. Freeze 2 hours. Put 1 tsp chocolate chips in the bottom corner of a small plastic bag. Melt in microwave for approximately 90 seconds. Cut off the corner of the bag and drizzle chocolate over frozen fruit. Quickly press with 1 tsp crushed nuts.
  • Frozen fruit. Portion canned fruit (in 100% juice) or fresh fruit (with juice) into 4-oz paper cups. Or use single-serving fruit cups. Freeze 1 hour. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze 2 more hours.
  • Frozen smoothie. Extra smoothie on hand? Freeze any leftovers in ice cube trays for 2 hours. Pop out.

Enjoy and stay cool!

Image from Naval Institute and must have following photo credit when used: "Photo from U.S. Naval Institute"

Photo from U.S. Naval Institute

“X” out tobacco

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Apps, Smoking, Tobacco
Join the fun today and play tXtobacco, a new contest sponsored by the DoD and partners.

The Department of Defense (DoD), Quit, and the National Cancer Institute have teamed up to promote tobacco-free living in the military with a new contest called tXtobacco.

  • What is it? tXtobacco is a text-message trivia game. The aim of the contest is to improve knowledge and change attitudes towards tobacco among service members and provide support to those who use tobacco.
  • How does it work? After you enroll, you’ll receive weekly text-message questions for one month. Points are awarded for participation and correct answers, and top-scorers will be acknowledged on weekly online leader boards.
  • Who can play? tXtobacco is designed for active-duty service members in post-basic training (both smokers and non-smokers) aged 18–24. But anyone in DoD can participate and is encouraged to join.
  • How do I sign up? Signing up is quick and easy. Just text TRIVIA to 47848. If you’re participating as part of a registered group, text the program code as well. Installation and service leads can request program codes by contacting
  • When can I start? Now! The contest is offered on a rolling basis and ends 12 December 2016. The last day to enroll is 13 November 2016.

For more information about tXtobacco, visit Quit Let the games begin!

More “tainted” products

FDA continues to identify over-the-counter products, including dietary supplements, containing hidden active ingredients. Could yours be one of them?

Since July 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released over 25 Public Notifications about individual supplement products marketed for sexual enhancement and weight loss that contain hidden active ingredients. Through laboratory testing, these products were found to contain drugs and controlled substances—ingredients that pose health and readiness risks. For a list of these Public Notifications, visit FDA’s Tainted Sexual Enhancement Products and Tainted Weight Loss Products.

The most common types of products found to contain “undeclared” ingredients (that is, substances not listed on the label) are those marketed for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding. Dietary supplements don’t require FDA approval before being put on the market, and there is no way to know the contents of a product without laboratory testing. So if you’re considering a dietary supplement, check the label to see if the product has been evaluated by an independent third-party organization.

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