By Sgt. 1st Class Tresa R. BoydOctober 3, 2018
Sgt. 1st Class Tresa R. Boyd
NCOIC Production & Services
Nutrition Care Division
Eisenhower Army Medical Center
Being Army Fit covers different dimensions, including physical, emotional, social, spiritual and family. Despite these dimensions, we look at the soldier as being Army Fit mostly on the physical aspect verses the other dimensions. Let's dig into the physical portion of being Army Fit.
You raise your right hand and you enlist into the United States Army; what's next? Off to basic training you go. This Initial Military Training includes physical-readiness training.
According to military leaders, the effectiveness of soldiers depends largely on their physical condition. The full-spectrum soldier has strength, stamina, agility, resiliency and coordination. These abilities are needed in warfare to effectively fight the fight in combat.
PRT consists of different phases. The initial phase, which is conducted in IMT, is considered the safe starting point for new recruits. The toughening phase further develops fitness and fundamental maneuvering skills. It is designed to gradually toughen bones, muscles and connective tissue.
The sustaining phase, which is conducted at the unit level, is more demanding according to duty positions. Then there is reconditioning which is to restore a soldier after an injury or illness to get the soldier back into the toughening then sustaining phase.
PRT strengthening and mobility activities is then tested by the Army Physical Fitness Test. The APFT measures the upper and lower body muscular endurance. Now with the implementation of the Army Combat Fitness Test, which has been in the works since 2013, this will directly connect fitness with the combat readiness of our soldiers.
The main purpose of the ACFT is twofold. First, the test ensures soldiers are ready for combat. Second, preparation for the test improves physical fitness as it relates to injury prevention.
Beginning October 2020, all soldiers will be required to take the six-event "gender- and age-neutral" ACFT. The new fitness evaluation is designed to prepare soldiers for the rigors of combat while improving Army readiness.
The Army has also put into place Master Fitness Trainers as unit advisors to ensure PRT, the APFT and the ACFT are administered safely. The MFTs are also responsible for soldiers in the reconditioning phase. The MFTs will work with the reconditioning phase soldiers to ensure they do not further injure themselves and get back to the sustaining phase in a timely manner.
In addition to proper exercise, to maintain total fitness, soldiers must also have proper nutritional habits. The Army has the Go for Green concept which optimizes health and fitness. Go for Green offers a menu of food items that are labeled green (eat often), amber (eat occasionally) and red (eat rarely). The green-labeled foods are for high performance. The goal is to encourage soldiers to select food items that are nutrient dense with recommended intakes of vitamins and minerals, high fiber, moderate protein and much lower levels of saturated fat, sodium, sugar, cholesterol and preservatives.
Are we Army Fit yet? Let's talk about the importance of proper sleep. Optimal sleep is critical to mission success. In training and on the battlefield, inadequate sleep impairs essential abilities such as reaction times, the ability to detect and engage the enemy, and squad tactic coordination. In peacetime situations when performing day-to-day operations to maintain skills, sleep is also crucial. Sleep loss and insufficient sleep associated with charge of quarters, staff duty and shift work places soldiers at risk for motor vehicle or work-related accidents, and impairs decision-making and alertness. Sleep is vital for soldiers' health, performance, well-being and it helps them prepare to excel mentally and physically.
In short, the key to Army Fit is the Performance Triad: activity, nutrition and sleep. The key measures are to get quality sleep, engage in activity and improve nutrition. P3 strives to improve and sustain healthy sleep, activity, and nutrition knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and associated outcomes among soldiers and Army beneficiaries. All these things enhance emotional needs, social skills, spiritual beliefs and care of family. Let's all have an Army Fit day.