It's not every day that one can convince more than 80 employees from the U.S. Army Public Health Command to voluntarily report before sunrise, but that's exactly what occurred on the morning of June 4.
On this particular day, these employees, clad in their diverse workout attire, showed up for a "Fun Run"--which consisted of a two-mile walk or five-kilometer run along the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. The day was special because it was part of the Performance Triad kick-off week, an Army medicine initiative to motivate individuals to focus on three components that build and sustain individual health and unit readiness--sleep, activity and nutrition.
Although some may grimace at the thought of getting up so early to work out, these public health staff members saw it as an opportunity to take charge of their own good health.
"It's a real treat for me to be here," said Heather Sands, who works in the command's G-2 office. "Many aspects of my job require me to be sedentary, and it feels good to get active and breathe the fresh, crisp air."
Public Health Command employees were not the only individuals who showed up for the early morning walk.
Maj. Beth Sprangel, who works at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, was also in attendance. She and Dr. Rebecca Benisch, a USAPHC food safety specialist, walk together most days.
"If you can fit activity into your day and with your friends, it is a win-win for physical and mental health," said Sprangel. "I am delighted to be here and give my support."
After receiving words of encouragement from both John Resta, director of the USAPHC's Army Institute of Public Health, and Lt. Col. David Bowerman, USAPHC chaplain--as well as a safety brief from USAPHC 1st Sgt. Mahlon Thomas--the participants were on their way.
At the conclusion of the "Fun Run," they enjoyed healthy snacks to emphasize the importance of refueling after strenuous exercise.
Many of the participants also received water bottles to show the importance of staying hydrated; hand sanitizers to remind them to wash their hands frequently; and many pamphlets that addressed all aspects of healthy living.
The "Fun Run" was not the only activity held for the kick-off. USAPHC employees also had the opportunity to attend a class on developing healthy sleep habits.
"Getting a good night's sleep is really tougher than you think," said Resta. "It requires discipline, and a commitment to ensure that your body and mind are adequately refreshed. When I am successful at getting enough sleep, I notice that I feel better and have more energy."
Another aspect of the week's activities allowed USAPHC employees to attend an open house at the Edgewood Area Army Wellness Center Annex to learn about the free services offered at the AWC that can help individuals attain a healthy lifestyle.
AWCs are a key element in the Army surgeon general's long-term strategy of refocusing Army medicine from a healthcare system to a system for health by emphasizing primary prevention, which means stopping diseases and chronic conditions before they start. AWCs directly support the Performance Triad. They offer six core programs including health assessment review, physical fitness, healthy nutrition, stress management, general wellness education, and tobacco education. Each of these programs is based in science and uses the highest sports medicine, fitness training and health standards to help Army military and civilian personnel create environments where healthy behavior can take place.
Although the Performance Triad kick-off week was only five days in duration, it is the hope of the USAPHC that employees will continue to incorporate healthy habits into their lives.
"A healthy lifestyle is not something that happens in the doctor's office or a clinic--it starts with you, and health is determined by your day-to-day decisions," said Resta. "Sleep, activity and nutrition are vital components to healthy living."