Fit to fight Soldier in Afghanistan
As part of the Army's Ready and Resilient Campaign efforts, Army Medicine is advocating a culture shift by encouraging every Professional Soldier to develop a mindset that drives them to optimize their own health in order to improve their performance and resiliency. Pictured here, combat-ready Spc. Kevin Jackson, with 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, pulls security during a reconnaissance mission in a village south of Forward Operating Base Fenty, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, Sept. 8, 2013.

FORT BLISS, Texas (Oct. 3, 2013) -- Eat, Move, Sleep! Not the name for a sequel to the 2010 movie, "Eat, Pray, Love" starring Julia Roberts, but rather three basic concepts.

The three components serve as cornerstones of a pilot program being launched by the Office of the Surgeon General and Army Medicine.

The program is called the Performance Triad. The three components are represented as physical activity, nutrition and sleep. Each is important on its own, but when all three are addressed simultaneously optimal performance can be achieved.

The entire nation is concerned with rising health care costs. Preventive medical measures are recognized as a necessity in order to move from a system of health care (disease model) to one that impacts behavior choices and health in the "lifespace." The lifespace is where health really happens -- where we sleep, how active we are, and what fuel we are putting in our bodies.

The Performance Triad, according to Army Medicine, seeks to create a system of behaviors that will support Soldier performance and overall unit readiness and effect a lifestyle of healthy behaviors for Soldiers and their families.

"We are very fortunate that Fort Bliss was selected as one of the pilot sites for this program," said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Miller, chief, department of preventive medicine and Performance Triad champion. "All Soldiers in 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, will be trained in these three areas -- activity, nutrition and sleep -- thus improving Soldier and unit readiness and develop the Soldier-athlete."

Outlined below are the three critical components and how they will facilitate good health, prevent disease and promote wellness and disease prevention.

Physical activity (Move): Regular exercise and physical activity can lead to long term health benefits and reduce the risk for many chronic diseases such as depression, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke and some forms of cancer.

Nutrition (Eat): Over the last 30 years, obesity in the U.S. has more than doubled among adults and more than tripled among children and adolescents. Statistics for Army family members parallels national rates. Obesity is a major public health again concerns for Army families due to its association with an increased risk for chronic health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and some forms of cancer. Army children who are overweight are at greater risk for becoming obese adults with significant health concerns.

Sleep: Chronic poor sleep has serious short and long term consequences -- from impairing daily readiness through reduced alertness and concentration to increasing risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease and depression. Fatigue and drowsiness from poor sleep can cause fatal accidents.

"Success of the sleep health component of the Performance Triad is dependent upon leaders who live and promote healthy sleep -- seven to nine hours per day," Miller said. "This will require a culture change. You are not better if you stumble through the day on five hours a sleep -- it's not safe."

She added that if healthy activity, nutrition and sleep behaviors are embedded into the Army culture by engaging Army family members, the Army could lead the nation in achieving and maintaining healthy weights and improve overall health.

"Think of the impact on American society," said Miller. "Healthy Soldiers, family members and Department of the Army civilians will lead the way to better sleep behaviors, fitness and overall health."

Page last updated Thu October 3rd, 2013 at 00:00