In honor of Memorial Day, we are dedicating our blog to the all the men and women who have served in the U.S. army. Many of the soldiers we know are some of the fittest people we have ever met. However, from time to time we all need some help or advice on how we can improve our health and fitness levels. Here are our top tips for soldiers as a thank you for all their service.
There are fitness standards that a soldier must pass in order to be suitable for active duty. Certain medical conditions will prevent a soldier from being deployed and soldiers need to demonstrate that they are physically and mentally fit for deployment. If you are a soldier who wants to be deployed there are some key measures you should take to ensure you are deemed fit for combat:
- Make sure you go to a physician for regular checkups. Conditions like asthma, heart disease, diabetes and musculoskeletal complaints could prevent you from being deployed. If you have a family history or think you are at risk of developing a medical condition, catching symptoms early could stop the illness from developing into something full-blown.
- Stay safe when exercising or training. Train with a partner and make sure you both warm up and stretch correctly. Try and avoid injury by wearing proper equipment and drinking plenty of water, especially if training in extreme heat. If you feel pain or start to feel ill, stop your workout.
- Your fitness regimen should include exercises that will work out your whole body. Develop or follow a plan that contains cardio exercise, endurance exercises, strength exercises and exercises that promote flexibility. From your head to your toes, your whole body needs to be in peak condition.
- Eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated. Soldiers have hundreds of food options to choose from when on an army base. Portions are carefully measured and rationed but it may still be possible for soldiers to overindulge. Too much fat and sugar can lead to weight gain and developing some of the conditions that could prevent you from being deployed so it’s important to watch what you eat.
Advice for Veterans
It is important to stay fit and healthy even if you are no longer in the army. Some injuries and conditions picked up while in combat may have long lasting effects on a person’s health so a special health and fitness plan may be required.
- When we hear about health issues in veterans, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is often cited as the main disorder affecting vets. If untreated, PTSD could lead to heart palpitations, panic disorders, negative thoughts and suicide. Specialized treatments are available for people suffering from PTSD but people can also help themselves by interacting with others or joining a support group. The important thing is to not suffer in silence and to not feel too proud to ask for help. Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health.
- Veterans are more likely to suffer from Type 2 diabetes than other groups. There is evidence that this is due to exposure to certain chemicals including Agent Orange. If you think you are at risk of developing T2 diabetes, you should seek medical attention. Maintaining a healthy diet low in refined carbohydrates and sugars may also decrease your chance of developing T2 diabetes.
- Veterans are also at a higher risk of developing deafness or hearing loss, chronic lung conditions and auto immune disorders like lupus and multiple sclerosis. It is difficult to prevent these conditions after active duty but early detection may result in a longer life expectancy or a higher quality of life and be less of a financial burden.
- Many veterans contend with limb loss, chronic wounds and paralysis. These are conditions which many people in the general population are unable to relate to. It’s important for vets afflicted with these conditions to speak and socialize with other veterans in the same condition. This can have an over-whelming positive impact on a veteran’s mental health and state of mind. The power of talking cannot be overstated.
Women account for 14.5% of all active soldiers in the U.S. army. Life as a female soldier differs to life as a male soldier. Despite the military’s efforts to make things equal for male and female soldiers, there are a number of things that female soldiers must deal with that a male soldier will never have to consider:
- PMS and menstruation is not something the army is overly concerned about. For some women, having their period while on an army base is no big deal. However, for the number of women who suffer from PMS, PMDD (premenstrual dysmorphic disorder) or long and/or heavy periods, it can be a big challenge. The impact a period has on a woman’s mental health is often glossed over. For some female soldiers, suppressing their period may be the best option. This is an extreme but temporary measure that will help ease any anxiety about getting a period while on duty. It also means that a woman will not have to experience the cramping and fatigue that come with periods and they won’t have to worry about having enough pads or tampons.
- Sexual relations between soldiers on duty happen. All soldiers-whether heterosexual or homosexual- need to be concerned about sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Women have the added bonus of worrying about pregnancy. Many female soldiers will continue to work in the army if they fall pregnant and have a normal pregnancy. For some female soldiers it is hard enough being a woman in the army and a pregnancy only adds to the strain. Being the lone pregnant person on a base can be a struggle but the army does offer resources and classes. However, if you definitely don’t want to get pregnant while deployed, make sure you use protection!
- Even the army is not immune from sexual assaults. In fact the rates of assaults are estimated to be higher than what is actually reported by soldiers. It is a reality of life that women in the armed services need to be vigilant and protect themselves against sexual attacks and violence. Fortunately, there are support groups and resources available that can help women keep themselves and other female soldiers safe from unwanted sexual behavior. If you were the victim of sexual assault while serving your country, don’t stay silent. Speak up and ask for the help and treatment you may need.
Feeling better about your health or fitness shouldn’t be a chore. If you ever need some extra support, come by BEFIT to speak with one of our trainers or simply fill out a Free Consultation Request by clicking the link and a fitness professional will reach out to you within 24 hours.