YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Army civilians and family members here will soon have a new way to lose weight and become physically fit as the civilian "Fit for Life" program begins here May 1.

The program is a structured-fitness plan that provides three hours a week to Department of the Army civilians to exercise during the duty day.

In addition to the workouts, weekly health education classes will give the latest on nutrition, stress management, cardiovascular disease risks, weight control and fitness.

"People in the program will be required to attend at least one class a month," said U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan Fitness Coordinator Sun Gaskey. "The classes will either be a nutrition class or hands-on training at the fitness center. Attendance at these classes is highly encouraged since they help you achieve your fitness goals."

Gaskey said exercise can be done in groups or on your own.

"In either case, you can workout during duty hours, mission requirements permitting," she said. "The three hours per week must be used for your workouts and not for any other personal leisure activities. Also, the workouts must occur on the installation."

The six-month comprehensive fitness and nutrition program is one way USAG-Yongsan health officials hope to reduce people's risk for heart attack or stroke.

"Ultimately, this will improve quality of life," Gaskey said.

Gaskey said obesity is now the leading cause of death for preventable diseases in the United States.

"Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death overall," she said. "Recent studies show obesity even outranks tobacco. Obesity can lead to Type II Diabetes, and increase the chances of someone having a heart attack or stroke."

Gaskey said regular exercise has been shown to be cost beneficial to employers.

"People who exercise regularly use less sick leave," she said.

For Army civilians, participation depends on gaining their supervisor's approval. The class is limited to 100 people. Men over 40 and women over 50 must get medical clearance before participating in the program.

"Of course, a lot of people start out with enthusiasm, but this is something to stick with for the entire length of the program," Gaskey said.

The first class will be May 1, but Army civilians and family members can contact Gaskey now to enroll.

For information, call 738-5171, or e-mail sun.gaskey@korea.army.mil.

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