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.
First lady Michelle Obama called on parents, schools, workplaces and the military to combat America's obesity epidemic in a visit to Fort Jackson this past Thursday. As America's waistline has grown, finding young people fit enough to serve in the military has become a problem, U.S. Army officials told Obama during her three-hour visit.
Ms. Obama is promoting the "Let's Move!" program to combat childhood obesity. And she met with Army personnel, from privates to a three-star general, to find out how the military is dealing with the problem and how solutions might be transferred to the general population.
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Being in stressful situations activates the body’s physiologic stress response, which is what allows Warfighters the ability to respond to any threat at any time. In the sports world, the stress response is associated with the adrenaline rush that pumps athletes up during competitions, and gives them the edge to win.
Unlike athletes, however, Warfighters are a select group who operate in stressful situations day in and day out. Prolonged exposure to stressful situations has been found to be harmful both physically and psychologically, unless one learns how to successfully manage one’s internal response. To that end, there are programs throughout the uniformed services that teach Warfighters combat stress management techniques. Many use a stoplight system—utlizing the colors green, yellow, and red—to teach Warfighters how to calm the stress response and bring the body back into balance, in order to give it a reprieve. Successful warfighters learn these skills and apply them in theater.
These same skills, which allow one to calm the body’s physiologic response to stress, can also be applied to other areas—most notably, in one’s relationships. The stress response triggered by external threats is the same stress response that is activated during emotionally-charged conflicts with someone you care about (although the degree of stress is different). Conflict between two people creates the same internal stress, coupled with a flood of negative emotions. The techniques learned to manage combat stress are techniques that can also help Warfighters in their personal relationships.
A recent study examined 149 couples in a 15-minute discussion about a marital conflict found that positive emotions helped couples regulate, or calm, their physiologic responses after the conversation. Interestingly, how happy the individual was with their relationship did not impact this finding. This indicates that positive emotions seem to have the ability to “undo” the physiologic arousal of conflict.
The next time you get in a fight with someone you care about, try this: stop, take yourself out of the situation, and start thinking positive thoughts—either about yourself, something else, or your partner. Notice whether you feel calmer, if your body temperature decreased, if your heart rate slowed down, and if your body moved less (we tend to move more when we are upset). You might find this to be an excellent addition not only to your combat stress strategies, but also to your positive relationship strategies.
Source: Yuan, J., McCarthy, M., Holley, S. & Levenson, R. (2010). Physiologic down-regulation and positive emotion in marital interaction. Emotion, 10(4), 467-474.
The way that parents behave under stress, and interact with their children on a daily basis, has a profound influence on a child’s resilience or the ability to bounce back from stress. Parents can improve resilience by teaching the following skills to their children:
- Spiritual: Parents can help children feel a sense of uniqueness, purpose, and perseverance by providing a spiritual foundation, framework, or belief in something bigger than just the child’s universe.
- Emotional: Parents can model and foster positive mood management; discuss feelings with them and help them learn how to deal with emotions, both positive and negative.
- Physical: Parents can practice and teach positive health habits that include healthful food choices and physical activity.
- Behavioral: Parents can model, coach, and teach positive behaviors that help foster their child’s belief that they can behave well and make positive choices.
- Cognitive: Parents can enhance a child’s self-esteem and help them develop cognitive and academic skills by monitoring and checking their homework, and promoting problem solving skills that teach them to proactively solve problems and develop independent thinking skills.
Recently, the White House announced new initiatives to support military families in four key areas: overall well-being, education and development of military children, career advancement opportunities for military spouses, and improved availability of quality childcare. Multiple agencies have partnered to support these efforts with the following goals:
- Focus on suicide trends to offer targeted preventive training and counseling to meet the mental health needs of military families;
- Offer child care resources;
- Combat homelessness;
- Expand communication across rural communities;
- Expand career opportunities for military spouses;
- Expand access to financial aid and needs of military students; and
- Expand facilities to help military families recover, integrate, and support their youth during and after deployment cycles.
First Lady visit to Fort Jackson will highlight the impact of obesity and decreased physical activity on military recruitment
First Lady Michelle Obama will visit South Carolina on January 27 for the first time since moving into the White House when she comes to Fort Jackson to highlight the impact of childhood obesity and decreased physical activity on military recruitment. Ms. Obama will spend a good chunk of the day at Fort Jackson, the Army’s largest training base, where she will discuss the “Let’s Move” campaign she launched two years ago with the aim of eliminating childhood obesity in a generation.
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Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDShub.net) has an article on the obesity epidemic - which is a major problem in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The article reports that bad eating habits affect both civilians and military members and provides information on how service members can improve their eating habits.
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According to a recent article in Stars and Stripes, Military doctors are worried that certain energy supplements could lead to heart problems in U.S. troops, particularly those serving in combat zones.
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Fitness is so important to your mental and physical health. Consider scheduling exercise into your work day; put it on your calendar! Keep packable tools like elastic tubing and bands at your desk. You can easily strengthen your chest, upper back, shoulders, arms, and legs in just a few minutes, two or three times a week. All without leaving your office! For ideas, click here: ACE GETFIT: Time saving tips for on-the-job fitness
For a warfighter, sleep can be just as important to the mission as having enough food, water and ammunition. Realwarriors.net has a great piece on the common myths about sleep and six tips to improve sleep habits while settling into a new routine away from home.