DoD is in the middle of a civilian employee fitness campaign called "Leap into Fall" that challenges employees to log 1.5 million hours of physical activity. First lady Michelle Obama began "Let's Move" to help U.S. children become more fit and healthy. And the Army, by regulation, offers its civilians one-time administrative leave to help them get fit.

There's a message in all of this fitness-focused activity, and the message is, it's good for individuals, employers, and the nation to develop a fit and healthy population.

The Army Civilian Fitness Program, governed by Army Regulation 600-63, Army Health Promotion, Chapter 5-5c, provides guidance for the implementation of wellness programs for government civilians. Department of Defense and federal government policies also support fitness programs for government civilians. They are:

Aca,!Ac DoD Directive 1010.10 Health Promotion and Disease/Injury Prevention, http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/101010p.pdf
Aca,!Ac Federal Employee Health Program, http://www.opm.gov/Employment_and_Benefits/WorkLife/HealthWellness/wellnessresources/

The Army allows a government civilian to participate once. The program is time-limited to one six-month period. It includes up to three hours per week of administrative leave to be used for physical fitness activities. Participation requires supervisor approval, and should not impede accomplishment of the mission of the organization. A medical screening is highly recommended to be sure that anyone with an existing medical condition that would put them at risk has physician approval before participating.

The results of a study released in March 2010 at the American Heart Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism Conference in San Francisco showed that workplace wellness programs help employees lose weight and reduce their risk of heart disease. Hospital workers took part in a voluntary 12-week, team-based wellness program that focused on diet and exercise.

The obese participants lost the most weight, but the overweight participants did almost as well. All participants had similar improvements in physical activity, along with lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and reduced waist circumferences at program end and after one year.

To help you make the most of your exercise experience, burn more calories and lose that extra weight, mix up your exercise routine. Doing the same workout all the time is tough on your body. Cross-training prevents burnout and injury, while ensuring a balanced training program that includes endurance, strength, and flexibility.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Aca,!Ac To prevent imbalance in the thigh muscles and stretch the hamstrings and hips, substitute one of your run days with a yoga or Pilates class.
Aca,!Ac To build muscle and bone with weight-bearing exercise, include weightlifting two to three times a week.
Aca,!Ac To burn calories and build core strength, add swimming to your exercise plan.
Aca,!Ac To give your joints a rest but still burn lots of calories, replace running with a day of biking or a spin class.
Aca,!Ac To increase the intensity of your walk, do plyometrics by adding jumping or skipping moves to your walk.
Aca,!Ac To increase your heart rate plus strengthen your lower body, walk in a hilly region.
Aca,!Ac To ramp up your walk without tiring, alternate moderately-paced walking with short, fast-paced bursts of speed. Peppering a 30-minute walk with 10 one-minute speed bursts can nearly double your calorie burn.

Check with your organization's human resource department or fitness facility to see what is available at your location. Take advantage of this opportunity to make regular physical activity a habit that stays with you for a healthy lifetime.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16