Physical activity
Athletic man exercising on exercise bike in a gym and talking to his female friend next to him. (Photo Credit: istock photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

As we enter the month of February, keeping that New Year’s resolution to get physically fit may seem like a distant memory – especially as the pandemic lingers on and life isn’t quite back to the old normal.

Employees at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command have a little extra motivation in the form of a new and improved Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program. Based on guidance from the Army, the revised program removes the six-month, once-in-a-career limitation on using administrative leave for up to three hours of physical fitness and health activities each week. The updated policy allows employees to use administrative leave for up to three hours a week and up to 80 hours a year to participate in command-sponsored fitness and health promotion programs.

The new policy also expands the definition of fitness and health promotion programs to include not only physical fitness activities but also preventive health events and education on health promotion topics.

To get started in the program, employees need supervisor approval and have to complete a participation agreement and a release and waiver of liability form. The forms and policy are available on AMCOM’s internal Command Information Portal.

AMCOM employees in good standing are provided up to three hours per week to pursue their fitness and health goals. The provision remains in place as long as supervisors and employees maintain the participation agreement, but cannot exceed 80 hours a year per statutory mandate.

Employees must also request specific times for participation in advance, which gives supervisors the ability to manage mission requirements. Participation time has to be recorded in the time and attendance system as administrative leave. The activity session must include travel time and preparation time and employees must report when they leave work to exercise and when they return to work.

Participation agreements must be renewed at least annually.

If an employee leaves for another position or is assigned a new supervisor, they will be required to have a new signed participation agreement with his/her (or the) new supervisor.

It’s important to note that supervisors can refuse to sign based on mission requirements. Moreover, an employee serving on a performance improvement plan, who is subject to leave restrictions or who has been formally disciplined for lack of candor or similar offense within the previous 12 months are not eligible to participate in the program.

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health and offers the following benefits, according to the U.S. Army Public Health Center.

  • Exercise controls weight – Any amount of activity is better than none at all. To reap the benefits of exercise, just get more active throughout your day — take the stairs instead of the elevator or rev up your household chores. Consistency is key.
  • Exercise combats health conditions and diseases – No matter your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Exercise improves mood – Whether you need an emotional lift or to de-stress after a hectic day, a gym session or brisk walk can help. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious.
  • Exercise boosts energy – Regular physical activity can improve muscle strength and boost endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.
  • Exercise can be fun and social – Exercise and physical activity give you a chance to unwind, enjoy the outdoors or simply engage in activities that make you happy. Physical activity can also help you connect with family or friends in a fun social setting. Find a physical activity you enjoy and do it.

For more information, contact Cedric Thomas, command wellness program manager, at cedric.j.thomas.civ@army.mil or on Microsoft Teams if you have any questions.