VICENZA, Italy - ArmyMOVE! weight loss classes can lead to more than a better score on your next PT test.

The three-part classes, held over the course of a month at the Wellness Center on Caserma Ederle, help participants develop better exercise and nutrition habits that lead to a healthier diet, greater strength and flexibility, and a heightened sense of well-being, said Capt. Timothy Eckard, a physical therapist and chief of rehabilitation services at the U.S. Army Health Clinic Vicenza.

Positive results can be achieved and maintained with as little as 250 minutes of exercise per week - that's just a tad over four hours in the course of seven days - he told a class of half a dozen Soldiers gathered for physical assessments Sept. 11.

Some of the benefits of living the ArmyMOVE! paradigm include decreased risk for health issues that range from arthritis and lower back pain to coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes. Positive benefits also include lower risk for anxiety, depression and sexual dysfunction, he said.

"Exercise is medicine," said Eckard, and the benefits are "scientifically proven side effects" of a sensible diet and exercise regimen.

Taking a quick survey of his audience, Eckard clarified that everyone present agreed that nothing should get in the way of staying fit. So what keeps Soldiers, and people in general, from eating well and working out regularly?

"Time, habits and work get in the way," said Eckard as he laid out the science behind the system.

One key to effective exercise is adding muscle, literally and figuratively, to the usual aerobics exercises that have proliferated over the past couple of decades. Adding resistance training in a sensible manner to cardiovascular training delivers better results, said Eckard.

He characterized resistance training as the secret weapon in taking off and maintaining weight loss by preventing loss of muscle mass while cutting calories. The combination creates a powerful synergy, he said.

"Muscle is a prima donna - it burns fat 24/7," Eckard said.

He described circuit training, continuously alternating repetitive sets of moderate intensity exercise with 30-second breaks, as resulting in higher metabolic rates that burn more calories. Working opposing muscle sets back to back yield the best results most efficiently.

"It can be this simple," said Eckard.

Proper diet is an essential ingredient of achieving and maintaining appropriate weight.

"Our goal is to lead to weight maintenance and not have anyone repeat," said Capt. Carly Eckard, a dietician and chief of preventive medicine at USAHC-Vicenza.

And it's not complicated to figure out: sign up for an upcoming session of ArmyMOVE! class and they will break it down for you. While the program is mandatory for Soldiers in the Army Weight Control Program, it is also open to adult dependents, civilians and retirees on a space available basis.

"Take advantage of it. It's all free," said Eckard.