Army program encourages healthy lifestyles
May 29, 2014
By Ben Sherman
Public Health Command is launching a new initiative to help Soldiers, family members, retirees and Army civilian employees develop healthier lifestyles.
Known as the Performance Triad, the program focuses on developing healthy physical activity, nutrition and good sleep habits. Each of these pillars helps develop healthier lifestyles in each individual's lifespace at work, home and during sleep cycles.
"We are encouraging everyone in the Fort Sill community to do more to be healthy," said Col. Noel Cardenas, Reynolds Army Community Hospital commander. "We want people to be active, to take 10,000 steps a day or the equivalent. That is roughly five miles of exercise, and that's the minimum activity each person needs.
"The average American is at non-motion, or what is called a sedentary state. They take about 5,000 steps per day and they sit for eight hours a day. So there's not a whole lot of activity. We want them to double that activity."
Cardenas pointed out that a sedentary lifestyle, along with a poor diet, increases the chances of type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and death. All of these diseases equate to increased expenditure of healthcare dollars, and with more people living longer and healthcare costs increasing, everyone needs to do their part to live a healthier lifestyle.
Here are the key emphases of Performance Triad:
-- Activity: motivate everyone to exercise more; to get up to 10,000 steps a day. This can be achieved by walking, climbing stairs or a number of movement programs.
-- Nutrition: eating healthy foods and avoiding junk foods or overeating. In 2012, the Army discharged 1,815 Soldiers for being overweight. It's all about eating a balanced diet.
-- Sleep: An adult should get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Studies have shown that a person who sleeps only four to five hours a night performs at a sub-par level.
"When you are operating under lack of sleep it's almost like driving under the influence. Your performance level drops significantly, especially on a mental level. Adolescents are struggling with this as well. Lack of sleep leads to lower outdoor activity for kids, and they spend a lot of time inside in front of computers, televisions, video games and such," Cardenas said.
"Our goal is to use these triad pillars to help people develop healthier lifestyles, and to prevent development of those diseases that we often seem to be playing "catch-up" with," said Maj. Michael Superior, chief of preventive medicine at RACH. "The Surgeon General wants Army medicine to go from a reactive model, in fighting diseases, to a more proactive and preventative model. We have the Army Wellness Center here and their staff has a lot of the tools necessary to help with the physical activity, nutrition and sleep components."
Rebecca Langford is the new director of the post Army Wellness Center (AWC).
"Everything that we do at the AWC is part of the Performance Triad. We lead the healthy sleep habits classes and we do the body composition testing with the "Bod-Pod. This helps people to know how much body fat they have and what the need to do to burn it off," she said.
"We are also bringing Capt. Deana Lawrence, director of nutrition, over to the center where she will offer the "Upping Your Metabolism" class to give clients their metabolism testing results, as well as in-depth nutrition advice. Clients will learn how many calories they burn when they are sitting still all day, as opposed to being active. Once they know how many calories they need, they can start to balance their caloric intake to know how many calories they should burn for their lifestyle," Langford said.
As part of the Triad, everyone is encouraged to eat at least eight servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
"This is a lifestyle change that has to be permanent," Lawrence said. "With nutrition, it's not just what you eat but how you eat it. We are working to provide nutritional information to everyone about what to eat. Then the next component is teaching people how to eat intuitively - making the right choices about eating, with behavioral changes in attitudes about their weight.
"Nutrition is also about performance, and everyone needs good nutrition as they increase their physical activity, said Lawrence. "Soldiers in particular have to get the right building blocks for healthy nutrition, so they will be ready to do their jobs at any time."
Lawrence revamped the menus at the RACH cafeteria, introducing reduced fat cheeses, switching to low-fat cooking oils and offering more fruits and vegetables. Through healthy eating information and training, RACH officials hope diners will make better meal choices, said Langford.
"The third pillar of the Triad is sleep. Dr. Susan Drake is chief of the sleep clinic, and we will be aggressive in getting information out about sleep habits, so everyone practices proper 'sleep hygiene.' We will be offering healthy sleep habits classes at the AWC to educate our clients about getting enough sleep," she said.