The Army Physical Fitness Research Institutes strives to help foster a culture of health and fitness for senior military leaders. That is especially true in the case of Joe Snow, a graduate of the U.S. Army War College Distance Education Program.

"My first contact with APFRI was in June 1985 and the personal assessment had a significant affect upon me and my life style," said Snow, a retired lieutenant colonel. "I had just completed a successful battalion command at Ft. Hood. I activated a new tank battalion (3/66 Armor) in the 2nd Armored Division. There was no blueprint for organizing, equipping, or manning a new battalion. It went very well but was extremely stressful."

This stress in his life had an adverse affect on his heath Snow went on to say.

"I thought I was very fit because I would run eight miles a couple of times a week. However the APFRI assessment indicated that my fitness program was not balanced," he said. "I learned that wellness involves not only the ability to run, but also includes a healthy diet, strength training, and flexibility exercises."

As part of their War College experience, each resident and distance education student undergoes a complete health assessment. The assessments help to give the APFRI staff a baseline for each student's health, fitness, nutrition and well-being. From that information the staff is able to identify each individual's strengths and areas where they could improve. Each student received their results and educational materials to reinforce the importance of their assessment results in terms of cardiovascular disease.

This new knowledge helped Snow to realize he needed to make some lifestyle changes.

"I took the recommendations to heart and changed my life style," said Snow. "For the next 23 years I lived a balanced life. I reduced my running to only five miles three times a week. I worked out with weights and did flexibility exercises the other three days."

The change in life style became even more important when he was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer with disseminated metastases in August of 2007.

"The cancer had spread from my lungs to my lymph nodes, ribs, spine, and brain. The initial medical evaluation was extremely negative, with a projected chance of survival of only 13%. They gave me four months to live," he said. "The doctors were hesitant to try anything other than palliative care."

However, after learning of Snows intense fitness program, it changed the outlook of his doctors.

"The day before I met with my medical team, I ran five miles, did 50 push-ups, 50 sit-ups, and series of other exercises. The medical team was astonished that a 66-year-old with very advanced cancer could accomplish these tasks. I told them that I was committed to this protocol until I die."

As a result, Snow began to undergo an aggressive radiation and chemotherapy program.

"I have been in treatment for more than three months and the cancer is showing signs of remission," he said.

Snow said that he believes that the regiment instilled in him by the APFRI program has helped extend his life.

"If in fact the cancer goes into remission, I credit the wellness program from APFRI for extending my life. I would encourage anyone who has had a wellness assessment to follow the recommendations of APFRI. It will increase the quality of your life and may actually extend your life."

Col. Tom Williams, APFRI director, said that the Snow's experience is what the program strives for.

"Joe Snow offers the model for what we hope senior leaders will do with a program focused on senior leader health and fitness. He leads by example and works tirelessly to bring awareness and opportunity to others so that they too might benefit," he said.

APFRI background

The Army Physical Fitness Research Institute seeks to achieve national preeminence in age 40 and over health and fitness programming through research, education and outreach. They seek to establish, promote, and sustain a culture that measurably impacts the overall health of the U.S. military and allied senior leadership in support of the national military strategy.

In 1982, the TRADOC Commander directed the establishment of the Army Physical Fitness Research Institute (APFRI) on the grounds of the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Its mission was to develop a comprehensive health and fitness program designed to fit the needs of senior middle-aged officers. A key focus was reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Over the years, the APFRI staff designed programs for stopping smoking, lowering blood pressure, improving nutrition, managing stress, and increasing flexibility, strength, and aerobic fitness

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