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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.

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FDA and supplements

HPRC Fitness Arena:
Read on to learn more about how to choose dietary supplements.

The FDA does not strictly regulate dietary supplements. As a result, supplements may not be as pure as stated on the label and may have potentially harmful contaminants. When purchasing dietary supplements, choose products approved by United States Pharmacopeia (USP) or other reputable sources.

For more information, click here for the FDA's information on dietary supplements.

The FDA's consumer information on dietary supplements.

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Preventing heat-related illness

HPRC Fitness Arena:
What to drink when you're working out in hot environments.

When performing physical activities in the heat, avoid drinking liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar since these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they may cause stomach cramps.

Click here for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's article on Emergency Preparedness and Response.

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Supplements and medications

HPRC Fitness Arena:

Dietary supplements may interact with medications or other dietary supplements, and may even contain ingredients not listed on the label. To help ensure coordinated and safe use, inform your health care provider about any dietary supplements you are using.

"Using Dietary Supplements Wisely," from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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How to destroy a relationship

HPRC Fitness Arena:
There are four characteristics that destroy relationships over time. Learn what they are to protect your relationships.

John Gottman, a noted couples researcher, has identified four characteristics that destroy relationships over time. In fact, if these characteristics are present when couples communicate, they are more likely to divorce over time. These characteristics are: criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness.  Gottman contends that these destroy relationships and termed them “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." Visit the HPRC Overall Family Optimization Skills section to learn more or see for more information (Gottman, 1994; Holman & Jarvis, 2003; Camp, Holman et al. 1993; Gottman and Levenson, 1992; Gottman 1993).

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Does LOVE make you healthier?

HPRC Fitness Arena:
WebMD has compiled recent research on the amazing health effects of love, particularly in marriage.

Does LOVE make you healthier? WebMD has compiled recent research on the amazing health effects of love, particularly in marriage. Happily married individuals 1) live longer, 2) see the doctor less, 3) have lower blood pressure, 4) are less depressed and 5) anxious, 6) manage stress better, 7) manage pain better, 8) have fewer colds, 9) heal faster and 10) are happier. See the full article here.

Also, for tips on how to make your relationship better, visit the HPRC Family Matterspage.

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Healthy ever after: Being happily married is linked to better health and well-being

HPRC Fitness Arena:
Relationships have a profound impact on health and happiness.

Relationships have a profound impact on health and happiness (see HPRC Family Matters section for more information). Recent research confirms that supportive and happy marriages promote better health, and conversely, that conflictual and negative marriages contribute to poor health. These findings may not be specific to just legally married couples since some studies have shown that having a consistently close and intimate relationship fosters positive effects. Click here for the full article.

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Supplements alone will not reduce your disease risk

HPRC Fitness Arena:
There's no replacement for a healthy lifestyle–a sound diet and regular physical activity.

Remember, taking dietary supplements alone will not reduce your disease risk. You must engage in complementary behaviors such as healthy eating and regular physical activity. Visit the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" publication for more information.

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What is heat acclimatization?

HPRC Fitness Arena:

For a more detailed analysis on heat acclimatization, click here.

Background

Heat-related injuries are a significant threat to the health and operational effectiveness of military members and their units. The human body’s response to heat stress is quite resilient if given several weeks for adaptation to occur. This process, called acclimatization, involves internal adjustments, in response to the outside environment, which improve heat tolerance. This adaptation can be fully achieved after 10 to 14 days of exposure to heat, but two-thirds, or even 75 percent, of the adaptation takes place within five days.

Myths and/or Claims

1) It is commonly believed that warfighters who are physically fit do not need to be heat acclimatized.

2) It is also assumed that older individuals are less heat tolerant than their younger counterparts.

3) Women are thought to need longer acclimatization time, since they are more vulnerable to heat illness.

Facts

1) Though fit warfighters acclimatize faster than less fit warfighters, a physically active person cannot be fully acclimatized without exposure to environmental heat stress.

2) Age has no effect on acclimatization. Research that controlled for body size and composition, aerobic fitness, hydration, degree of acclimatization, and chronological age showed little or no age-related decrements in one’s ability to manage or acclimate to extreme temperatures.

3) Nor does gender appear to be a factor: women were thought to need longer acclimatization, since they are more vulnerable to heat illness. However, women and men show equivalent thermoregulation during exercise when levels of fitness and acclimatization were controlled.

4) Heat-related injuries such as exertional heat illness remain a major cause of illness and occasional fatalities within the Armed Forces. However, as mentioned earlier, the human body’s can be resilient to heat stress if given several weeks to adapt.

Caution

Heat acclimatization adaptations may vanish after only a few weeks of inactivity (i.e., 18-28 days). The first adaptations to degrade are those that develop first: heart rate and other cardiovascular variables.

Summary for Military Translation

Studies have shown that acclimated soldiers suffer no detrimental effects of exertional heat stress, despite almost the same degree of heat strain. The Technical Bulletin-Medical 507 provides an evidence-based preventive program to protect military personnel from heat stress and associated adverse health effects. The recommended heat acclimatization strategies are to mimic the deployment climate, ensure adequate heat stress (i.e. by invoking sweating, having 4 to 14 days of heat exposure, and maintaining the daily duration of at least 100 minutes). It is also suggested that heat acclimatization start at least one month before deployment; and upon arrival, acclimatization should start slowly and build up by increasing heat and training volume as tolerance permits.

References

A.Nunneley, S. (2009). Prevention of Heat Illness Medical Aspects of Harsh Environments, Volume 1: U.S. Army Medical Department's headquarters

Armstrong, L. E. (Ed.) (1998) Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science.

DOD. (2010). Update: Hear Injuries, Active Component, U.S.Armed Forces, 2009. Medical Survillance Monthly Report, Vol.17.

Lugo-Amador, N. M., Rothenhaus, T., & Moyer, P. (2004). Heat-related illness. Emerg Med Clin North Am, 22(2), 315-327, viii. doi: 10.1016/j.emc.2004.01.004S0733862704000057 [pii]

McArdle, W., Katch, F., & Katch, V. (2007). Exercise physiology. Energy, Nutrition & Human Performance (Sixth ed.): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Radakovic, S. S., Maric, J., Surbatovic, M., Radjen, S., Stefanova, E., Stankovic, N., et al. (2007). Effects of acclimation on cognitive performance in soldiers during exertional heat stress. Mil Med, 172(2), 133-136.

USACHPPM. (2003). Heat stress control and heat casualty management.

 

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Extreme fitness programs

HPRC Fitness Arena:
There’s a trend in the military to move away from the traditional focus on calisthenics and running.

Fitness programs are trending right now, and there's a move away from the traditional focus on calisthenics and running in the military. Our Warfighters are increasingly interested in ensuring that they are optimally prepared to deal with the rigors of being deployed. Most have found that unit physical training programs are not adequate to prepare them for a year of going up and down the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many have looked outside the military and are increasingly embracing extreme fitness programs.

Two of the more popular programs are P90X and CrossfitCrossFit. P90X is a commercial, 90-day, home fitness program emphasizing cross-training and varied exercises. The cardiovascular conditioning, strength, and flexibility components are designed to promote overall physical fitness. HPRC has recently posted a review of P90X that looks at the suitability of the program as a readiness tool. CrossFit is similarly a strength and conditioning fitness methodology that combines weightlifting, sprinting, and gymnastics. It has been described as everything from a fitness company to a grassroots health movement to a cult. (crossFit homepage link) Both P90X and CrossFit are designed as intense exercise programs and are not ideally suited to beginners or unfit users.

So what is right for you? This is an important question, but difficult to answer because of the lack of research associated with popular intense fitness programs. Both of the programs referenced above have shown good results with a large number of practitioners. There has, however, been a history of muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis) associated with each program. This is a dangerous condition where muscle fiber breaks down and is released into the blood stream, poisoning the kidneys.

To determine what the right fitness program is for you, it’s important to consult the experts in your organization. Talk to your supervisor first and ensure that you are matching your fitness program to your functional job requirements. Each of the Services are moving toward functional fitness programs and leaders are increasingly shifting away from a focus on the “daily dozen.” What you are looking for in an exercise program might be available in your unit or on your base. You should also consult your local health provider. They will be able to help you establish your baseline fitness level and determine how aggressive you can be initiating a new and more intense fitness program. They can also help you establish a program to ramp up from this baseline that puts you on a path to continually improve your fitness level without getting injured.

Because of the necessity for better information on the risks and benefits associated with extreme fitness programs, HPRC will host a conference prior to the end of the fiscal year 10 (FY10) that will include some of the leading experts on the subject from across the country as well as representatives from each of the Services. The conference will be held at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. If you are interested in getting information on the conference please send us a note at the “contact us” button on the HPRC homepage. The intent of the conference is to ultimately establish the right framework to push the fitness envelope and to dramatically reduce the risk of injury.

Recall of certain body building products

HPRC Fitness Arena:
MuscleMaster.com, Inc. announced a recall of body building products.

MuscleMaster.com, Inc. (www.MuscleMaster.com) announced that it is conducting a voluntary nationwide recall of all lots and expiration dates of the seventeen listed dietary supplements sold between June 1, 2009 and November 17, 2009 (hereinafter "Recalled Products"). Click here to read more.

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