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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.

Compare body fat standards by service branch

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Feeling fit? Compare the U.S. Armed Forces’ body fat standards by service branch.

Several of the service branches have recently updated their body fat composition standards. The U.S. Armed Forces uses body composition (a measure of a person’s body fat) as one factor to determine a service member’s fitness level.  

Each service has its own standards (within DoD guidelines 1308.1) and evaluation methods. Whether you’re a healthcare provider or service member, check out HPRC’s Body Fat Standards by Service Branch infosheet to compare the different service standards.

Ways to quiet your mind

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body, Total Force Fitness
Figure out your preferred approach to quieting your mind so that you’re ready to take on the next challenge!

You might have noticed that you can “turn off” your busy brain by watching TV, but did you know there are other techniques that could help quiet your mind? You can download several MP3 audio files in HPRC’s Mind-Body Apps, Tools, and Videos.

Remember it's okay if your busy brain turns on. But just as easily as racing thoughts creep in, let them creep out—while gently guiding your attention to something neutral such as your breath, or something important such as the task at hand. Whether it’s watching TV or using a mind-body technique, find ways to quiet your mind and be more focused when it matters.

Wondering about weight-loss supplements?

Ask yourself just three questions before you take a weight-loss supplement.

Trying to lose weight as your New Year’s resolution, meet body composition standards, or just be healthier? Weight-loss supplements might be a tempting solution, but before you take one, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it safe? Having a faster heart rate isn’t “normal” or a “good sign” that the supplement is working! Many weight-loss supplements contain plant-based ingredients and other stimulants that can have serious side effects such as chest pain, high blood pressure, and even heart attack. If you want to know about the safety of a specific product or ingredient, you can look it up in the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.
  • Does it work? Unfortunately, just because a product seemed to work for your friend doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. There’s limited scientific evidence that weight-loss supplements alone help people lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off. Question the claims on the label, and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Do you know what’s in it? Many dietary supplement products marketed for weight loss have been found to contain hidden prescription drugs or compounds that haven’t been adequately studied in humans. Be sure to check the label to see if the product has been evaluated by an independent third-party organization.

If your goal is to lose weight this year, challenge yourself to do it the old-fashioned way with a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity. And be patient: Making changes to your lifestyle and body takes time, but you will see results.

For more information about weight-loss supplements, visit the Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) FAQs about Weight Loss.

A new year’s resolution for your relationships

Jump-start the new year! Resolve to improve your personal relationships in 2016.

Happy New Year! As you plan exciting changes in 2016, give some thought to your personal relationships:

  • What makes you happy?
  • Who can you count on if you have a serious problem?
  • Who is your best friend?
  • How close are you to family and friends outside of your unit?
  • How much closeness do you need/want?

Can’t answer some of these questions? Then think about how to make a change this year. Show loved ones that you care about them. Establish close bonds with those you can trust. Let others know they can rely on you. Resolve to focus on developing deeper relationships with those around you so that your safety net is set for 2017.

Enjoy your run without "the runs"

Having the urge “to go” during a workout isn’t unusual for endurance athletes. There are steps you can take that could get you to the finish line accident-free

There’s an unpleasant situation that runners sometimes experience called “runners’ trots” or diarrhea. While short lasting and generally harmless, they can be annoying and cost you time during training or a race.

Certain activities such as high-intensity or long-duration exercise and vertical-impact sports (e.g., running vs. biking) increase your risk of gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort. Dehydration, poor conditioning, medication, and eating habits can cause GI irritation too. Despite the lack of hard evidence as to what causes these GI issues, there are things you can do to help settle your stomach:

  • Avoid trying new foods or sports drinks during a race.
  • Increase the time between eating and activity. Wait at least 3 hours after eating a large meal, or eat a smaller meal or snack closer to training time.
  • Plan out your meals, especially for endurance events.
  • Pay attention to what you eat to help identify foods that increase your discomfort during running. It’s best to avoid these until after you finish your race.
  • Limit your intake of gas-forming or fiber-rich foods (e.g., broccoli, onions, and beans).
  • If you’re sensitive, avoid coffee and other forms of caffeine before a run.
  • Hydrate before and during endurance activities; it will help blood flow to the GI area.
  • If you use sports gels or chews for endurance events, drink enough water (three to eight ounces every 15–20 minutes) to stay hydrated.
  • Give yourself time to use the bathroom before an endurance exercise.
  • Increase distance and intensity gradually.

If symptoms persist for more than a few days, even at rest, seek medical attention. Enjoy your run!

Plan for the worst this New Year

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Body
To accomplish your New Year’s Resolutions, don’t just think positive. Instead, picture the specific obstacles you will overcome.

To accomplish your New Year’s resolutions, really think about the obstacles you’ll face to make those changes happen. Resolutions often come with optimism, but then they tend to fade and become forgotten. Notice how many people are at the gym for the first few weeks of January, then later stop coming. One reason resolutions don’t work out is that people underestimate how hard it will be to maintain the changes. Believing that changes will be easy can initially fuel your motivation, but it also makes following through less likely.

If you want to experience the satisfaction of following through this year, consider the obstacles now. This way, you can picture what you need to do to overcome your obstacles and experience success.

Here’s an example: You want to get more fit. You could enthusiastically decide, “This is the year!” and join the masses of people who are no longer in the gym in February because you found out later that you “don’t have the time.” Or you can set SMART goals aimed at realities you deal with. This means envisioning the steps needed to overcome your obstacles, such as:

  • I am working out 5 days per week!
  • I know it’s a challenge after my kids are out of school, so I’ll ask my boss if I can arrive at work earlier so I can squeeze in a mid-day 45-minute workout later.
  • On days when I can’t make it to work early, I’ll do some work from home in the evening after the kids are in bed.
  • When worse comes to worst, I will jump rope and do push-ups and sit-ups after the kids’ bed time.
  • When I have to, I’ll arrange play dates on weekends to get my workout in

Stimulants in your supplement?

Do you know how to spot a stimulant and whether it’s a problem?

Stimulants are common (and potentially problematic) ingredients in dietary supplements such as pre-workout and weight-loss products. But do you know how to tell if your dietary supplement product actually contains a stimulant? OPSS has some answers. Check out the OPSS FAQs about why stimulants are a problem and how to identify them on labels, both of which link to our list of “Stimulants found in dietary supplements.”

And while you’re there, visit our other OPSS FAQs, where you’ll find information about specific stimulant ingredients such as DMAA, DMBA, BMPEA, yohimbe, and synephrine. We also have several FAQs about caffeine, probably the most common stimulant.

Dealing with loved ones during the holidays

Learn how to make friends with your family this holiday season.

It’s often great to connect with family and friends during the holidays, but it can occasionally feel like you’re drawn into old—sometimes negative—ways of communicating. If you only see your family now and then, they might view you as you were when you were younger instead of as you are now. Just being together in the same place can even ramp up old issues. Planning ahead for how to deal with situations can help you navigate them better and bring peace.

  • Think about potential friction points with loved ones.
  • Decide how you want to respond.
  • Be patient with others.
  • Stay positive and true to yourself.

5 ways to stay active at work

Even with regular exercise, sitting for most of the day can increase your risk for chronic illnesses and early death. Find out what you can do about it.

Little things you do during your workday can reduce the amount of time you sit, decreasing your chance of developing certain sicknesses. Many jobs involve hours of sitting. Commuting, sitting down for dinner and TV after work, and then sleeping only add to the time most people sit or lie down in their daily lives. The more time you spend sitting, the higher your risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. We offer some ways to move more throughout your workday. Read more here.

It’s that sneezing and sniffling time of year—again

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Cold, Colds, Illness
Fighting a cold? These healthful remedies should help you get back on your feet sooner than later.

Each year, the average adult catches 2–3 colds lasting 7–9 days each. That’s almost an entire month—YIKES! What you eat and drink each day can impact your body’s resistance to sickness. Want to keep the doctor away? Eat 9 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables daily.

Choosing nutritious foods when you’re sick shortens the number of days you feel badly and helps you feel better while you’re recovering. Here are some tips to help you get well soon:

  • Grab a mug of chicken soup to clear your head and soothe your throat.
  • Drink tea (black, green or white) to break up chest congestion and stay hydrated. Tea also contains a group of antioxidants, which could boost overall immunity.
  • Take a spoonful of honey before bedtime to quiet a cough. You could also add honey and lemon juice to one cup of boiling water. (Not for kids under one year of age.)

These recommendations might have previously been considered folklore or old wives’ tales, but science now shows that Grandma knew best!

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