FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker joins many other Army installations to promote the importance of a well-balanced lifestyle during the annual Strong B.A.N.D.S. campaign.

Strong B.A.N.D.S. -- Balance, Activity, Nutrition, Determination and Strength -- promotes garrison fitness and wellness programs available to Soldiers, families, retirees and civilians, said Lynn Avila, Fort Rucker Directorate of Family, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Sports, Fitness and Aquatics Branch fitness programs coordinator.

"Balance is a key component to overall physical fitness -- balance in nutrition, sleep or rest and physical activity," she said.

Fort Rucker's physical fitness centers and Center Library will kick off the campaign with a co-hosted Story Walk May 6 from 9-11 a.m. beginning at the Beaver Lake Trail head.

"The walk will take place along the 1-mile loop of the Beaver Lake Trail," Cameron Hill, Center Library youth librarian, said. "Participants will see pages of a picture book -- in this case, "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything" -- posted along the trail. They can take a stroll and find out what happens next in the story as they go.

"Last year we had over 100 participants and we are hoping to get a lot more this year," she added. "Strollers and dogs are welcome, too."

Other Strong B.A.N.D.S. events are listed below.

Military Spouses Day and Mother's Day free classes: all fitness classes at Fortenberry-Colton PFC will be free May 12. Tickets for a grand prize drawing will also be available at the front desk. For more information, call 255-3794.

Day at the Lake: outdoor recreation will open for a free day of swimming May 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lake Tholocco's West Beach. Canoes, kayaks, paddle boats and inflatables will be free for all who attend. Food items will be available for purchase. Center Library staff will be on site with a build-your-own paper boat activity. The event is open to the public. For more information, call 255-4305.

Spin Challenge: Fortenberry-Colton PFC will host a two-hour spin challenge beginning at 5:30 p.m. May 23. Cost is $3.50 per person and the event is open to all authorized patrons. Refreshments will be available. All participants will be entered into the Strong B.A.N.D.S. drawing for the opportunity to win a prize. For more information, call 255-3794.

Prize drawing tickets will be available at each Strong B.A.N.D.S. event. Patrons are encouraged to participate in all the events to receive the maximum number of entries for the grand prize drawing.

The U.S. Army MWR website offers a series of fitness tips to help promote strength in all areas. Tips include a dynamic warm-up card, how to run hills more effectively, how to be more active if your job requires long seated periods, effective sleep habits and a strength training workout.

"A dynamic warm up helps reduce the likelihood of injury during a workout," Avila said. "Think of your muscles as a rubber band. After a period of inactivity, the muscles become tight. Dynamic warm-up movements help to warm up and loosen those muscles, reducing the chance of an injury.

"Effective sleep habits are another invaluable tool to improving overall health and fitness," she added. "It's best to view sleep as another part of nutrition -- it is fuel. A well-balanced diet, adequate hydration and the proper amount of sleep are all key components to remaining healthy and strong."

Avila added that sleep, along with activity and nutrition, comprise the Army's Performance Triad.

"It is important to remain consistent with your sleep habits," she said. "Pick a time for bed that you can consistently maintain and target your waking period to target seven to eight hours of sleep."

For more information about Strong B.A.N.D.S., visit